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Couple lose legal bid over travel website

The owners of a Highland guest house have lost a legal bid to seek details from an internet travel website of writers of reviews as they sought to sue the authors.

Martin and Jacqui Clark maintain that one report was false and that another set out events that were fictional.

They wanted to raise legal proceedings against the writer or writers of the reviews suing for defamation and asked the Court of Session in Edinburgh to make an order for TripAdvisor to disclose information on the identity of the authors.

The travel website challenged the move, claiming there was no jurisdiction. Yesterday Judge Paul Arthurson QC rejected the couple's move, following an earlier hearing.

He said the piece of legislation under which the order was sought "does not empower the Court of Session with worldwide jurisdiction to ordain persons such as the respondents (TripAdvisor) to produce information".

He said: "I conclude that the approach contended for, on behalf of the petitioners (the Clarks) would require the court in turn to make a rather alarming entirely global assertion of jurisdiction," adding that that would be "wholly misconceived".

TripAdvisor in its terms and conditions set out that users agreed that all claims against it arising from the site must be heard in Massachusetts. The court heard that Mr Clark accepted that he had ticked a box in the course of his use of the website.

Paul O'Brien, counsel for TripAdvisor said the company had a place of business in England, but its position was that its place of business was in Massachusetts, in the USA and pointed out that nobody was contending it was in Scotland. "I am told TripAdvisor maintains its computer systems in the US," he said.

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