Walter Tzvi Soriano v. Forensic News LLC & Ors

The Cyber Blog IndiaCase Summary

Data protection claim against a US-based online news publication focused on investigative journalism

Walter Tzvi Soriano v. Forensic News LLC & Ors
[2021] EWHC 56 (QB)
In the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Media and Communications List
Case QB-2020-002450
Before Justice Jay
Decided on January 15, 2021

Relevancy of the Case: Data protection claim against a US-based online news publication focused on investigative journalism

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The General Data Protection Regulation 2018 (Article 3)
  • The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (Section 7(3A))
  • The Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (Direction 3B, 6B, and Part 24)
  • The Defamation Act 2013 (Section 9)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The claimant is a British citizen who has lived in the United Kingdom since 2003. His entire family lives in the United Kingdom, and England is his primary business focus.
  • The first defendant is Forensic News LLC, an online news publication. The second to fifth defendants are journalists of Forensic News who contributed to those articles. The sixth defendant has his own publication. All the defendants are from the US.
  • The first defendant produced 159 articles about President Trump’s financial affairs and activities of the Psy Group. The Psy Group is a private Israeli intelligence company in Ukraine.
  • In ten of those articles, the defendants alleged a connection between the claimant and the Psy Group.
  • The claimant believes that the defendants have violated his rights under the Data Protection Act and General Data Protection Regulation. He has also made a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act, and for libel and malicious falsehood on a global scale.

Prominent Arguments by the Counsels

  • The claimant’s counsel argued that the first defendant offers services to readers in the UK. Also, it accepts shipping addresses in the UK. Thus, under Article 3 of GDPR, the defendants fall within the territorial scope.
  • The defendant’s counsel submitted that the defendants carried out bona fide journalism in a responsible manner. Moreover, they have mentioned the sources of all the concerned publications. The counsel also argued that the claimant’s interests transcend national boundaries and he was unable to prove that his objectives cannot be fulfilled in the USA. Involving all the defendants in a trial in England would be a very imbalanced inconvenience.

Opinion of the Bench

  • The claimant has no arguable case under the GDPR.
  • The claimant has suffered harm to his reputation in England and Wales. This, the claim is appropriately filed under the jurisdiction of England and Wales courts.

Final Decision

  • The court allowed the claims of libel and the misuse of private information against all except the sixth defendant.
  • The trial will be held in the same court as per forum conveniens.

Linet Christina Thomas, an undergraduate student at Lords Universal College of Law, and Ojasvi Gupta, an undergraduate student at the Faculty of Law, Banaras Hindu University, prepared this case summary during their internship with The Cyber Blog India in May/June 2022.