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New York's High Court and British "libel tourism"



Many readers will be familiar with Britain's infamous libel laws, which are extremely plaintiff-friendly and which, notably, have been used by Islamists and their fellow-travelers to attempt to muzzle those who reveal their activities. In the words of the New York Post, British libel laws gave rise to a practice that critics call "libel tourism." [The British High Court tightened its jurisdictional rules somewhat in 2006, truth be told.]

The Sun reports that, earlier this week, New York's highest court passed up an opportunity to protect American authors from libel tourism. That state's Court of Appeals ruled that New York-based Rachel Ehrenfeld could not use Empire State courts to challenge a British judgment ordering her to pay 30,000 British pounds � more than $60,000 � for "defaming" a Saudi billionaire widely felt to be a funding source for terrorist organizations. The court found that the Saudi had so few dealings involving New York that its courts had no personal jurisdiction over a suit against him, though of course that would change were he ever to attempt to enforce the British judgment in New York. Ms Ehrenfeld had sought a declaratory judgment that the British libel tourism was an infringement on her First Amendment rights. Now she'll have to wait to be sued, in limbo as it were, with other victims of libel tourism victims.

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.