Website owners must often contend with the activities of third party screen scrapers. The website owners are now in a stronger position due to a recent decision by Mr. Justice Michael Hanna in the Irish High Court in the case of Ryanair Limited v Billigfluege.de GmbH delivered on 26 February 2010.
Ryanair Limited .v. Billigfluege
Mr. Justice Hanna’s decision relates only to a preliminary issue as to whether the case should be heard in Ireland or Germany. It is not a full decision on the allegation of screen scraping or the other issues which are before the Court.
Preliminary Jurisdictional Issue
In any dispute there is an initial issue that must always be determined: where should a defendant be sued? Billigfluege, a German based company argued that it was not appropriate that proceedings be brought in Ireland and that proceedings should be brought in Germany. They relied on Article 2 of the Brussels Regulation (the set of rules regulating which courts have jurisdiction in legal disputes of a civil or commercial nature between individuals/companies resident in different member states of the European Union). Article 2 provides that a defendant should be sued in its own domicile. However, Ryanair argued that while that may be the general rule, a number of exemptions to that general rule exist, most notably that the parties can contract that the courts and the law of a particular jurisdiction can apply to disputes under that contract.
Contract Between the Parties
The Court noted that it was a well established general principle of law that parties to a contract cannot be bound by terms which they have not had the opportunity of reading prior to making the contract. The Court stated that that is not to say that a party will not be bound because they have not read the terms.
The Issues of “Use”