Landmark Court Decision on Data Protection and Defamation Claims | News

The Court of Appeal has allowed a UK-based Israeli businessman to file a data protection lawsuit against a US news site in what would be the first ever appeal ruling on the territorial scope of the blanket settlement UK data protection.

Lord Justice Warby has said Walter Soriano should be able to bring an action for alleged GDPR breach against Forensic News and four US-based journalists over seven articles and a podcast that refer to Soriano in “unflattering terms”.

In Soriano v Forensic News LLC et al.the court ruled that website subscriptions via the Patreon platform – which could be paid for in pounds sterling or euros – amounted to “stable arrangements” to satisfy Article 3(1) of the GDPR.

Warby found that Soriano had established he had “a real rather than imagined prospect of success” on the GDPR claim, but added that the issues “required further and definitive consideration in this matter” and suggested that the Information Commissioner be asked to speak.

Soriano’s lawyer, Shlomo Rechtschaffen, of London firm Rechtschaffen Law, said: “Today’s decision is of historic significance for all American media: if you publish an article about a British citizen, even if you are only physically based in the US, you could be sued in the UK for breaching data protection laws.

Rechtschaffen also said the decision offered UK citizens “protection of their reputation and personal data from foreign publishers”.

Scott Stedman, founder of Forensic News and second defendant to Soriano’s claims, noted the UKR’s GDPR court ruling has “major implications for every American media outlet”. the Gazette understands that the defendants intend to seek leave to appeal.

Warby also upheld the High Court’s decision decision that Soriano could serve libel actions against the same defendants outside the jurisdiction, in a judgment noted now be the “final appeal authority” on Section 9.

The judge found that section 9 contained “significant changes” to the forum conveniens test, but did not effect “a deeper change in the law” which created a “jurisdictional hurdle for the plaintiff to overcome” – contrary to the findings of the judge below and Judge Julian Knowles in Al Sadik vs Al Sadik.

Warby also said the defendants bear the burden of proof to establish that another jurisdiction is as appropriate as England and Wales to hear the claim, and that the standard of proof required was “the standard well established for forum conveniens litigation, of a “good arguable case”, contrary to the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Wright vs. Worm.

Thelma J. Longworth