Totalise Plc v The Motley Fool Limited and Interative Investor Limited (2): CA 19 Dec 2001

The respondent operated a web site which contained a chat room. Defamatory remarks were made by a third party through the chat room, and the claimant sought details of the identity of the poster. The respondent refused to do so without a court order. One was applied for, and the claimant was given the information and given his costs. The respondents appealed that costs order. In a Norwich Pharmacal situation, the normal rule on costs under CPR cannot apply. It is more akin to pre-action discovery.
The costs order was wrong: ‘in a case where the proposed order will result in the identification of website users who expected their identities to be kept hidden, the court must be careful not to make an order which unjustifiably invades the right of an individual to respect for his private life, especially when that individual is in the nature of things not before the court. ‘

Lord Jusice Aldous, Lord Justice Sedley, Lady Justice Arden
Times 10-Jan-2002, Gazette 27-Feb-2002, [2001] EWCA Civ 1897, [2002] 1 WLR 2450, [2002] EMLR 358, [2003] 2 All ER 872, [2002] FSR 50, [2002] CP Rep 22, [2002] EMLR 20, [2002] 1 WLR 1233, [2002] Masons CLR 3
Data Protection Act 1998 6 35, Civil Procedure Rules 44.3, Contempt of Court Act 1981 10
England and Wales
CitedNorwich Pharmacal Co and others v Customs and Excise Commissioners HL 26-Jun-1973
Innocent third Party May still have duty to assist
The plaintiffs sought discovery from the defendants of documents received by them innocently in the exercise of their statutory functions. They sought to identify people who had been importing drugs unlawfully manufactured in breach of their . .
Appeal fromTotalise Plc v Motley Fool Ltd and Another QBD 15-Mar-2001
A web site operator who declined responsibility for the moderation of a chat room on the site, but did take steps to remove a poster making defamatory remarks, could not rely upon the Act to resist disclosure of the identity of the author. The Act . .
CitedTanfern Ltd v Cameron-MacDonald, Cameron-MacDonald CA 12-May-2000
The court gave detailed guidance on the application of the new procedures on civil appeals in private law cases introduced on May 2. Appeals from a County Court District Judge’s final decision in a multi-track case could now go straight to the Court . .

Cited by:
CitedSheffield Wednesday Football Club Ltd and others v Hargreaves QBD 18-Oct-2007
The defendant operated a web forum in which posters posted defamatory messages about the claimants. The claimants sought an order disclosing the contact details of the members of the forum. The owner of the forum said he had undertaken not to . .
CitedSmith v ADVFN Plc QBD 13-Mar-2008
Order re case management application. The claimant said he had been defamed on an internet forum run by the defendants, and sought orders for disclosure of the identities of the posters to the website. The operator said that special software might . .
CitedSmith v ADVFN Plc and others QBD 25-Jul-2008
The claimant had brought multiple actions in defamation against anonymous posters on an online forum. The claimant sought to lift the stay which had been imposed because of the number of actions. The claimant had not yet paid outstanding costs . .
CitedBunt v Tilley and others QBD 10-Mar-2006
The claimant sought damages in defamation in respect of statements made on internet bulletin boards. He pursued the operators of the bulletin boards, and the court now considered the liability of the Internet Service Providers whose systems had . .
CitedTwentieth Century Fox Film Corp and Others v British Telecommunications Plc ChD 28-Jul-2011
The claimant rights holders sought an order to require the defendant broadband internet provider to deny access to its users to websites which were said to facilitate the distribution of infringing copies of their films. An earlier judgment had . .
CitedCartier International Ag and Others v British Telecommunications Plc and Another SC 13-Jun-2018
The respondent ISP companies had been injuncted to stop the transmission of websites which infringed the trade mark rights of the claimants. The ISPs now appealed from the element of the order that they pay the claimants’ costs of implementing the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Costs, Civil Procedure Rules, Media, Information

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.167216