Friday, June 26, 2015

Canadian Provincial Courts CAN Order Google to Remove a Website from Google's Search Results

I am amazed at the velocity of change which the internet and computers generally have brought.  I can remember life without Google and Apple; I remember making mix cassette tapes which activity has had new life breathed into it by streaming services such as Spotify.  As a lawyer I have wondered what impact such ubiquity of technology will have on our Courts ability to grant relief against these tech giants which tech giants most persons would think do not carry on business in Canada (at least in British Columbia).  The Court of Appeal of British Columbia has weighed in on this issue in:

Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Google Inc.,2015 BCCA 265 

This case makes it clear that Canadian Courts (at least British Columbia Courts) will not be limited by the fact that Google's servers and systems are not hosted in Canada and will assert that justice can be granted in the business world at large.

In the Equustek case Equustek sought an interim injunction preventing Google from presenting their website in a Google Search result.  Google defended the application on the basis of jurisdiction arguing that the Court did not have jurisdiction over Google; Google submitted that it was not a British Columbia corporation and the injunction did not relate to activities it carried on in British Columbia. 

The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia and decided that Google was carrying on business in British Columbia as a result of it sale of adwords and the connection of such sales to financing the Google search engine.  As a consequence the Court of Appeal concluded that it did have jurisdiction over Google and that the Court could grant an Order which would have impact outside of British Columbia.  The Court of Appeal stated:

“Once it is accepted that a court has in personam jurisdiction over a person, the fact that its order may affect activities in other jurisdictions is not a bar to it making an order”

This decision will have impact on Canadian cases which will require an Order to deal with breach of confidentiality and defamation where the servers are NOT located within Canada or the Province where the Court is located.  It will be interesting to see how enforcement of these types of Orders will be received by the jurisdictions where the servers are located.