Student faces €1m legal bill over web defamatory video

Internet video clip falsely accused him of taxi fare evasion

 Taxi driver  posted the video asking if anyone could identify the person in his cab, one person wrongly named the student who was in Japan at the time. Photograph: Reuters

Taxi driver posted the video asking if anyone could identify the person in his cab, one person wrongly named the student who was in Japan at the time. Photograph: Reuters

Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 01:00

A student who went to court in a bid to secure the permanent removal of an internet video clip falsely accusing him of taxi fare evasion is facing a legal costs bill believed to be over €1 million.

At the High Court yesterday, the student, representing himself, told Mr Justice Paul Gilligan: “I am a student of no means.”

He told the judge he thought he would not have to pay his own legal costs before the end of the proceedings, which began in January 2012 and are continuing.

Solicitor Paul Lambert of Merrion Legal Solicitors, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin, who represented the student at an earlier stage of his case, wants his bill of costs to be submitted before a High Court Taxing Master, whose task is to assess the costs to be paid. The court heard the student would not sign a form to allow that to happen.

Ronan Upton, for Mr Lambert, said the bill was “rather large” and the nature of the action meant there were significant legal costs involved.

Mr Justice Gilligan said he needed more information concerning the bill of costs matter and instructed both sides to file affidavits. The case will come before the court again in October.

Mr Justice Micheal Peart previously made orders in the student’s case brought against YouTube, Google, Facebook and a number of websites preventing republishing of the video and accompanying material wrongly identifying the student as a man leaving a taxi without paying the fare in Monkstown, Dublin.

The judge found the student was grossly defamed in the video because he was incontrovertibly not the person in it.

After the taxi driver had posted the video asking if anyone could identify the person in his cab, one person wrongly named the student who was in Japan at the time, he noted.

An appeal was later lodged against the High Court decision and, last December, Mr Justice Peart said he would grant a stay, pending appeal. The interim orders preventing republishing of the clip must remain until the appeal is heard, the judge ordered.

Permanent removal

The student had also sought a mandatory injunction requiring the internet companies to permanently remove the video and other material. Mr Justice Peart had ordered that experts for the student meet with experts for the internet companies on how to go about taking down the material permanently on a worldwide basis.

A full hearing of the student’s action for damages and other orders arising from the clips remains on hold pending the appeals.