Libel Tourism

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Rachel Ehrenfeld, is an investigative journalist who does work on terrorism and its financing. Among others, she has implicated Khalid bin Mahfouz “in the funding of terrorism.”

Mahfouz has won a libel settlement against her in British courts:

Bin Mahfouz was also, it turned out, one of London’s most prominent “libel tourists,” the term for those non-Britons who try to take advantage of the country’s pro-plaintiff libel laws. Those laws not only make it easy for plaintiffs to win damage awards but also allow American publications with small circulations in the U.K. to be sued in the London courts.

The New Yorker: LET’S GO: LIBEL

Remarkably, the book in question wasn’t published in the UK. The fact that twenty-three copies of it were purchased there — over the internet — gave the court jurisdiction. (A libel plaintiff could potentially purchase twenty-three copies to make their case?) Are the London courts going to police libel internationally? If so, booksellers could potentially refuse to ship certain titles to the UK to avoid this problem; but what would/does it mean for online content (like this blog) that can be viewed in the UK?

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