January 14, 2021
Giustra v Twitter Inc 2021 BCSC 54
Mr. Giustra has brought a lawsuit against Twitter claiming damages and an injunction for defamatory tweets authored by others and relayed on Twitter’s internet platform. Giustra has strong connections to both British Columbia and California. Twitter is based in California.
The issue before this court was whether BC has jurisdiction to hear the claim. Twitter said it does not on the grounds that California is a more convenient forum.
The decision reiterates the low bar for establishing jurisdiction simpliciter in online defamation cases. If the statements are read by someone in a jurisdiction, and the plaintiff enjoys a reputation in that same jurisdiction, then it is very difficult for the defendant to win on jurisdiction simpliciter.
The decision also highlights the complexity at the forum non conveniens stage, and sorts through the various opinions from the SCC in Goldhar, especially on enforceability and applicable law.
An important aspect of the forum non conveniens analysis is that the inability to hold Twitter liable in California is found not to be a juridical advantage that weighs in Twitter’s favour, but rather a fact that establishes California is not an alternative forum at all.