Google defamation action begins


The owners of the Ballymascanlon House Hotel in Co Louth have taken a legal action for damages against internet giant Google alleging defamation of the hotel's business and reputation via Google's web search service.

It is alleged Google had permitted, since about March 14th 2011, the term "receivership" to automatically appear after the hotel's trading name when a search is carried out in the autocomplete suggestions in the search bar. This suggested the hotel was in receivership or financial difficulty when it was not, the plaintiffs claim.

Oliver Quinn (Senior), Oliver Quinn (Junior), Niall Quinn and Ballymscanlon Holdings Ltd, owners and operator of the hotel located at Ballymascanlon, Dundalk, had initiated High Court proceedings last May against Google Ireland Ltd.

Calinfornia-based Google Inc was later joined to the action as a co-defendant and solicitors for the defence have sought to have the case discontinued against Google Ireland on grounds it is not responsible for providing the Google web search service.

The defendants had also brought a motion to have the proceedings fast-tracked in the Commercial Court but, when that motion came before Mr Justice Peter Kelly today, he was told both sides were consenting to have the transfer application adjourned for two weeks.

Hugh Mohan SC, for the plaintiffs, said his side would be opposing the application to transfer but wanted a short opportunity to put matters on affidavit.

Mr Justice Kelly remarked the case involved "an unusual commercial defamation claim". It was unusual to adjourn applications to entry to the Commercial Court list and, while he would grant an adjournment on this occasion, that was not to be taken as a precedent, the judge said.