Yeung Man Sek Edmond v Google (Hong Kong)ltd

CourtDistrict Court (Hong Kong)
Judgement NumberDCCJ4322/2013
Subject MatterCivil Action
DCCJ4322/2013 YEUNG MAN SEK EDMOND v. GOOGLE (HONG KONG)LTD

DCCJ4322/2013

IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

CIVIL ACTION NO 4322 OF 2013

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BETWEEN

楊敏碩 (YEUNG MAN SEK EDMOND) Plaintiff

and

GOOGLE (HONG KONG) LIMITED Defendant
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Before : Deputy District Judge Mak in Chambers
Date of Hearing : 20 February 2014
Date of Decision : 19 March 2014

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DECISION

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Introduction

1. This is an application by the defendant to strike out the statement of claim under Order 18 Rule 19 of the Rules of District Court.

The statement of claim

2. In the statement of claim, which was written in Chinese, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant by using the search engine of google.com.hk (“the domain name”), as an agent, knowingly published and assisted a third party in the intentional and malicious publication of libel or slander.

3. Paragraph 2 of the statement of claim stated that on 5 May 2011, the defendant by using the search engine of google.com.hk included therein, maliciously published as an agent or assisted a third party in the malicious publication of 5 defamatory websites together with 1 malicious photograph.

4. Paragraph 5 of the statement of claim stated that on 23 August 2011, the defendant by using the search engine of google.com.hk included therein, maliciously published as an agent or assisted a third party in the malicious publication of 11 defamatory websites together with 3 indecent photographs and 1 malicious photograph.

5. None of the alleged defamatory words was set out in the statement of claim.

Legal principles on striking out

6. To exercise the court’s power under this rule, the claim must be obviously unsustainable, the pleadings unarguably bad and it must be impossible, not just improbable, for the claim to succeed before the court will strike it out: 18/19/4 Hong Kong Civil Procedure 2014.

7. The term “an abuse of the process of the court” connotes that the process of the court must be used bona fide and properly and must not be abused. The court will prevent the improper use of its machinery: 18/19/10 Hong Kong Civil Procedure 2014.

Relevant law of defamation

8. To maintain an action for libel or slander, the words complained of must have been published. In order to constitute publication, the matter must be published by the defendant to a third party. See Gatley on Libel and Slander, 12th Ed. at 6.1.

9. The Court of Final Appeal in Oriental Press...

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