The High Court has dismissed a medical negligence claim by an Irish woman on the basis that the services she purchased over the internet were in no way directed into Ireland, a decision which has broad implications for both e-commerce businesses and consumers alike.
The woman booked a cosmetic surgery treatment in Poland through a UK website. She suffered complications following the treatment and subsequently took an action for medical negligence before the Irish courts.
EU regulations on jurisdiction generally provide that cases should be taken in the country where the defendant resides. However, under special consumer rules, a case may be taken in the consumer’s own country against a business that directs its professional or commercial activities to that country “by any means”.
While the plaintiff was undoubtedly a consumer, the Irish High Court saw no evidence that the UK website had directed its activities to Ireland. The Court noted that the currency the parties dealt with was Sterling, that the UK agent operated a .co.uk domain name and UK telephone number and that the surgery itself was performed in Poland.
This is a significant decision for both consumers and businesses alike. It illustrates the importance for businesses of strategically managing their online presence and for consumers to understand the implications of purchasing goods or services over the internet.