Malicious falsehood, data protection and an injunction to restrain YouTube videos

Mr Justice Whipple took a unusual step in the case of Al-Ko Kober Ltd & Anor v Sambhi [2017] EWHC 2474 (QB), he granted an application that requested an interim injunction for malicious falsehood and a order to cease processing personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998.Â

The case concerned two claimants: Al-Ko Kober Ltd, a manufacturer of stabilising braking systems for caravans, and Mr Jones, Al-Ko Kober’s marketing manager.

The defendant in the claim was a Mr Sambi. Mr Sambi was creating a competing product named the ‘Torquebar’.

The case revolved around 84 videos that were on the defendant’s YouTube channel that were derogatory towards both the claimants’ stabilising braking systems and Mr Jones.

The claimants subsequently became aware of the videos on the YouTube channel and they asked the defendant to remove them, but with no success. Whilst the claimants repeatedly asked the defendant to remove the videos, the defendant responded by posting new videos that were more derogatory, these videos even referred to Mr Jones as a ‘killer’.

It was now for the court to decide if the publication on the YouTube channel should or should not be allowed. The court applied the rule in Bonnard v Perryman [1891] 2 Ch 269 decided that the court need be: “satisfied that no judge or jury could reasonably conclude that the statements made by the Defendant were true”.

The defendant failed to support the motion that the comments in the videos were true. The court found that the statements were untrue and that the defendant’s case was based on a false premise. Whereas the claimants’ provided evidence to example the braking systems as safe.

The court went onto conclude that the defendant had improper motives in the publishing of the videos. Therefore, the question of malice was answered in the affirmative.

The court then considered section 10 of the Data Protection Act 1998. It was found that the claimant had given notice, as per the section, requiring the defendant to cease processing Mr Jones’ personal data.

Mr Justice Whipple held that it was appropriate for the defendant to comply with this notice and stated that: “I agree that the order should provide that Mr Sambhi must not process, further process or cause or permit to be processed any audio recording, video recording, still photograph or other information, including by disclosing the same to the public, amounting to Mr Jones’s personal data for the purposes of the DPA”.

Thus, the application for an interim injunction to stop malicious falsehood and an order to cease processing personal data was granted.

This case highlights the fact that the Data Protection Act 1998 and an injunction to prevent the processing of inaccurate data is a useful tool for those whom would be unsuccessful for a defamation claim.

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