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Berezovsky V. Michael Notes

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EREZOVSKY V. MICHAEL B

FACTS An American business magazine published an article accusing the plaintiffs, two
prominent Russian citizens, of being involved in organised crime in Russia. The
article was published in North America, where the magazine had a circulation of
over 785,000, Russia, where only 13 copies were distributed, and England, where the
magazine had a circulation of just under 2,000 and a total readership of about 6,000.
The plaintiffs, who both claimed to have significant connections with England, chose
to bring libel actions against the publisher and editor of the magazine in England,
rather than in the United States or Russia. In those proceedings, they confined their
claims for damages to the publication of the article within the jurisdiction, and
sought leave to serve the writs on the defendants out of the jurisdiction. The
defendants applied to have the writs set aside and the actions dismissed or stayed,
contending that England was not the most appropriate jurisdiction for the trial of the
claims. The judge held that Russia was the more appropriate forum and accordingly
granted the stay. His decision was reversed by the Court of Appeal, which concluded
that both plaintiffs had a substantial complaint about English torts. HOLDING The application to serve outside jurisdiction was based on RSC Ord 11, r 1(1)(f) - the
relevant part of the order makes it permissible to serve a writ out of the jurisdiction
where "the claim is founded on a tort and the damage was sustained, or resulted from
an act committed, within the jurisdiction." Global Cause of action argument - rejected Forbes submitted that the correct approach is to treat multi­jurisdiction cases like the
present as giving rise to a single cause of action, and then to ascertain where the
global cause of action arose. There is no support for this argument in English law. It is contrary to the long­
established principle of English libel law that each publication is a separate tort.
Moreover, it is inconsistent with the policy underlying the acceptance by the Court of
Justice of the European Communities in Shevill v Presse Alliance SA Case C­
68/93 [1995] All ER (EC) 289, [1995] ECR I­415, admittedly a convention case, that
separate actions in each relevant jurisdiction are in principle permissible. And, as Hirst LJ observed, the single cause of action theory, if adopted by judicial
decision in England, would disable a plaintiff from seeking an injunction in more than
one jurisdiction. In the context of the multiplicity of state jurisdictions in the United
States there is no doubt much good sense in the Uniform Single Publication Act. But
the theory underpinning it cannot readily be transplanted to the consideration by
English courts of transnational publications. Rightly, the Court of Appeal rejected this
submission. The English law of libel has three distinctive features, viz (1) that each
communication is a separate libel (Duke of Brunswick and Luneberg v

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