Social media networks have democratised the power of mass communication. One less laudable consequence of this development is, however, that individuals are at a much greater risk of committing defamation than existed under traditional media, which would generally exercise editorial control. The legal problems associated with defamation on social media are made more complex by the fact that through the internet in general, and social media in particular, communications will readily cross borders. Where a communication crosses borders, the question of the applicable law arises – whose law should govern whether the communication gives rise to an actionable claim for defamation? This is a problem which is addressed by rules of private international law, in particular through choice of law rules. This chapter examines the rules which apply in the English courts to determine which national law governs cross-border claims in defamation, considering whether a special rule should apply for online defamation, and whether the problems raised by social media require further specialised regulation. In so doing, it also analyses why the applicable rules, which were developed in the nineteenth century, have proven so resistant to modernisation in the face of the challenges of the twenty-first century. Keywords: choice of law; jurisdiction; defamation; libel; social media; internet
Kimberley N. Trapp and Alex Mills
Alex Mills, Hisashi Harata and Oona Le Meur
The Cambodian ‘blood sugar’ scandal was revealed to the general public in 2010 by the ‘Cambodia Clean Sugar Campaign’, which called for a boycott of sugar exported to Europe under the European Union’s ‘Everything But Arms’ trade initiative. According to the campaigners, ‘increasing production had resulted in human rights abuses’ that required to be tackled at their origin, i.e. in the countries that were incentivising the exploitation and benefiting from ongoing land grabbing (http://www.cleansugarcampaign.net/). In this context, the Song Mao case illustrates several phenomena linked to global value chains: the generation and global circulation of value; multiple collateral damages (in terms of environmental harm, displacement of populations, forced labour, destruction of cultural forms of life and landgrabbing); and above all, the role of law, particularly in its private international avatar, in their construction and maintenance. Here, the claimants, some 200 villagers and former residents of the Koh Kong area in Cambodia, sued the multinational sugar giant Tate & Lyle in tort, alleging that they had been displaced from the land they inhabited; that the land and the sugar cane planted in that land was their property; that the raw sugar processed from the sugar cane was imported to England where it was converted by the defendants into refined sugar. Interestingly, they sought not the repossession of the land but a continued share in the profits generated by the refined sugar – targeting thereby the very core of the dynamic process of capital accumulation.