Online Gambling Firm Betfair Wins Round One

Published Saturday, June 20, 2009 -

An Irish High Court decided in a preliminary hearing that Betfair was not responsible for comments posted in its online chatroom.

The libel case Seamus Mulvaney and Ellen Martin, bringing to court seeks damages from The Sporting Exchange Ltd alleging that its members published defamatory comments about them on the forums on Betfair's website. Winning a preliminary ruling, does not put an end to the court case. In its defence, Betfair successfully cited the 2003 Irish regulations, implementing the 2001 European E-Commerce Directive.The win came despite a clause in the directive that exempts gambling activities from protection against libel. Representing the Betfair company a team solicitor with Irish law firm A&L Goodbody, Feidhlimidh Wrafter, said: "That's really what the judgment's saying, that gambling companies that operate a chatroom are now considered to be protected by the EU directive. It's on appeal but it's certainly a judgment that we're very pleased with and we think it's the right one."

The case is precedent setting for gambling website operators as it uses laws that protect internet service providers from any liability that results from third parties posting on websites. Mr. Justice Clark, a Irish High Court judge ruled that Betfair had limited liability as an intermediary service provider because its chatroom was not core to the company's main betting business.

The judge also ruled that because Betfair stored information provided by third parties on its servers the company therefore acted as a host for the purposes of the E-Commerce Directive and was protected. The directive was designed to promote business on the internet. He also said, "It follows that the gambling exclusion does not prevent Betfair from placing reliance on the E-Commerce Directive as a defence in these proceedings." A source close to the case said, "The case did turn on some very complicated principles of European law and the EC commerce directive, so it's very pleasing that it's been adopted." When asked about how long the case has been dragging through the courts, (since 2004), Betfair lawyer Mr. Wrafter commented, "There's a long backlog of cases in the Supreme Court at the moment. I don't think this case could be expedited."

Related news

Return to Latest News