Ireland: Irish High Court Has No Jurisdiction In Internet Defamation Claim

Last Updated: 11 March 2014
Article by Sharon Daly

A recent Irish case, CSI Manufacturing Ltd v. Dun and Bradstreet1 ruled on whether the Irish courts have jurisdiction to hear defamation proceedings where (i) the publisher of the allegedly defamatory material is not domiciled in Ireland; and (ii) the publication has been accessed only by parties outside of Ireland.


The applicant is a producer of industrial labels and signage.  It is an Irish registered company and has its business premises in Ireland.  The respondent publishes online credit information and ratings, available on a subscription basis. It is a UK registered arm of a major multinational corporation.  Although domiciled within the EU, it is outside the jurisdiction of the Irish courts.

In May 2012, the respondent published an online assessment report on the applicant which questioned its creditworthiness. The applicant issued defamation proceedings and it sought a declaratory order that the publication was false and defamatory. It also sought a correction order, and a prohibition order or injunction relating to future publications.

Legal Question

The respondent applied for either an order to strike out the claim or an order to set aside delivery of the summons. It argued that Dublin's Circuit Court had no jurisdiction to hear the action under s 28 of the Irish Defamation Act 2009. This provision requires any applicant to issue proceedings in the court of the Irish 'circuit' where:

(a) the statement to which the application relates was published, or

(b) the defendant, or one of the defendants, as the case may be, resides.

As above, the publication in question was online and therefore the issue of jurisdiction depends on the location of publication. The respondent claimed that the only publication of the material occurred outside the jurisdiction in Belfast and the court in question and it therefore had no jurisdiction.  The respondent failed with this argument in the Circuit Court and appealed the matter to Judge Kearns in the High Court.

Relevant Authorities

Judge Kearns identified three cases – Martinez2, Shevill3and Coleman4 – relevant to his consideration of the legal question before him. 

Turning first to the Irish authority, Coleman, he noted that the case involved an alleged defamation of the plaintiff by an English newspaper.  In that case, the defendant brought an application for an order that the court decline jurisdiction to hear the matter.  The Supreme Court acknowledged the complexities of online publication, but in circumstances where the plaintiff's pleaded case did not refer to online publication and the plaintiff put no evidence before it of online publication and hits on the website regarding the story. Therefore, the court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to determine the plaintiff's claim in Ireland.

In the Martinez case, the ECJ considered the issue of jurisdiction in the context of online defamation as follows:

(i) The court first examined the nature of the internet publication and recognised the need for a more adapted response.

(ii) For this purpose, it created a new jurisdictional ground, referable to the location of the 'centre of interest' of the affected party, which would allow for the recovery of all the damages.

(iii) Otherwise it confirmed the existing rules as laid down in the Shevill case.

The Shevill case itself determined that a defamation complainant may bring an action in:

(i) The courts of the state in which the publisher of that content is established, for the entirety of the damage; or

(ii) The courts of each state in which the publication was distributed and where the victim claims to have suffered damage to his reputation, for the part of the damage linked to that state's publication.


Judge Kearns ruled that the Martinez decision set out the applicable law in relation to this matter and clarified that for internet publication, it suffices that the content has been placed online or otherwise made accessible in the country of receipt. 

However, in the case before Judge Kearns, which was akin to the Coleman case above, it could not be inferred that publication had occurred because the respondent's site is a subscription site. This meant that publication was to a restricted audience and the information was not readily available across jurisdictions. As only one subscriber, a Belfast company, had accessed the material, Judge Kearns ruled that the applicant had not proven publication in the Republic of Ireland in accordance with s 28 of the Defamation Act 2009, above. 

Judge Kearns also ruled that it was relevant to consider the centre of interest of the injured party.  However, he said that the centre of interest test can only be applied once it is established that the material is published and read in the Republic of Ireland, which was not the case.  There was no proof that the material had been accessed by subscribers in the Republic of Ireland:

"... for the centre of interest test to apply it must also be established that material was published and read in Ireland. Based on the test in Coleman and the fact that the subscription site is not readily accessible it cannot be said that the centre of interest can apply where the Shevill rules acknowledge the two steps of publication and the place of receipt of communication."

In light of the above and the failure of the applicant to prove publication, Judge Kearns found in favour of the respondent and he allowed the appeal.


This case highlights how jurisdiction is an important issue where a defamation complaint relates to an online publication. Evidence of online publication may not suffice, particularly where there is restricted access to the information online. It may also be necessary to prove access to the relevant material, depending on the circumstances of the online publication in dispute. 


1 CSI Manufacturing Ltd v. Dun and Bradstreet [2013] IEHC 547

2 EDate Advertising GmbH v. X and Martinez & Anor v. MGN Limited [2012] QB 654.

3 Shevill, Ixora Trading Inc, Chequepoint SARL and Chequepoint International Limited v. Presse Alliance SA (C-68-93) E.C.R. [1995] I-00415

4 Coleman v. MGN Limited [2012] IESC 20.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.