Trkulja v Google LLC [2018] HCA 25 (13 June 2018): Defamation, publication, summary dismissal, imputations arising out search engine results

September 2, 2018

The High Court in Trkulja v Google LLC [2018] HCA 25 upheld an appeal from the Victorian Court of Appeal regarding a summary judgment application. It is a very significant decision in relation to pleading the of defamation when the imputations arise from search engine results.

FACTS

While not enamoured of the drafting the Court noted that the Appellant’s (Trkulja”) Amended Statement of Claim was  sufficiently comprehensible to convey that Trkulja alleged that:

  • Google defamed him by publishing images which convey imputations that he:
    • “is a hardened and serious criminal in Melbourne”, in the same league as figures such as “convicted murderer” Carl Williams, “underworld killer” Andrew “Benji” Veniamin, “notorious murderer” Tony Mokbel and “Mafia Boss” Mario Rocco Condello;
    • is an associate of Veniamin, Williams and Mokbel; and
    • is “such a significant figure in the Melbourne criminal underworld that events involving him are recorded on a website that chronicles crime in [the] Melbourne criminal underworld”[3].
  • Google published the defamatory images between 1 December 2012 and 3 March 2014 to persons in Victoria, including several named persons, upon those persons accessing the Google website, searching for  Trkulja’s name or alias (Michael Trkulja and Milorad Trkulja), and then viewing and perceiving the images presented on-screen in response to the search [4].
  • the allegedly defamatory matters  comprising two groups:
    • “the Google Images matter” and
    • “the Google Web matter” [5]
  • some of the pages include an image that contains text stating, inter alia, “Google lawsuit in court”, “COLOURFUL Melbourne identity Michael Trkulja” and “Mr Trkulja an associate of Mick Gatto” [7]
  •  the images matter and the web matter are defamatory of  Trkulja in their natural and ordinary meaning and  carry the following defamatory imputations:

Read the rest of this entry »

Harstedt Pty Ltd v Tomanek [2018] VSCA 84 (10 April 2018): Trustees and trust, accessorial liability, the second limb of Barnes v Addy, fraudulent breach of trust

April 15, 2018

The Victorian Court of Appeal in Harstedt Pty Ltd v Tomanek [2018] VSCA 84 considered the operation of the second limb of Barnes v Addy and, in particular the requirement to establish knowing assistance.

FACTS

The genesis of the action and appeal was a failed investment scheme known as a private placement program. Investors were promised profits which were to be generated by the investment of capital by a humanitarian organisation [1].

The director of Harstedt, Jeffrey Olsen, had been a stockbroker for about 15 years. In late 2006, he was approached by Noel Carter who said that he had an investment proposal. The investment was described as a ‘private placement program’ for a not-for-profit humanitarian organisation called the ‘Isaiah 61 Foundation’ which would use investors’ capital to make substantial profits under an agreement [4].  Olsen was initially not interested as it offered no capital protection .

At a conference at Carter’s office on 3 March 2007,  Olsen met Stephen Moriarty (“Moriaty”). To meet Olsen’s concerns about capital protection Moriarty  said that funds contributed by Australian investors would stay in Australia in a ‘non-depleting’ account and that the funds would not Read the rest of this entry »

X v Twitter Inc [2017] NSWSC 1300 (28 September 2017): equity, injunction regarding tweets, confidential information, Norwich Orders.

October 29, 2017

In X v Twitter Inc [2017] NSWSC 1300 the Supreme Court of New South Wales, per Pembroke J, issued a final injunction regarding a post on Twitter. In doing so the Court considered in detail the scope and operation of injunctions on Twitter, a platform with much of its operations located outside Australia.

FACTS

Between 16 and 19 May the first offending tweets appeared [6] with the author of the tweets used a twitter handle that falsely adopted the name of the plaintiff’s CEO.

On 19 May, the plaintiff’s solicitors wrote to Twitter Inc:

  • drawing attention to the tweets,
  • the offending information contained in them and
  • the user’s impersonation of the plaintiff’s CEO.
  • requesting Twitter Inc to:
    • remove the offending material from the Twitter website;
    • to deactivate the ‘fake’ user’s account;
    • to take all other steps available to it to prevent the user from publishing further confidential information on the Twitter website; and
    • to provide the identity and contact information of the user.

Twitter responded Read the rest of this entry »

Re Convector Grain Pty Ltd (In Liquidation) [2017] VSC 473 (16 August 2017): Corporations Act sections 588F and 1322, power to amend, liquidator’s action, rule 3.02

September 19, 2017

Associate Justice Randall in Re Convector Grain Pty Ltd (In Liquidation) [2017] VSC 473 rejected an application for an extension of time on the service of originating process. In doing so his Honour undertook a very comprehensive review of the interaction of the Civil Procedure Rules with the Corporations Rules and section 1322 of the Corporations Act.

FACTS

The second and third plaintiffs, liquidators of the first plaintiff (‘Convector Grain’), sought relief under s 588FF(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (‘the Act’) that a preference in the sum of $337,928.27 be repaid to Convector Grain [1].

The liquidators were appointed as voluntary administrators in place of those originally appointed on 5 September 2013. By resolution made on 10 February 2014 they became liquidators of Convector Grain [14].

This proceeding is Read the rest of this entry »

Culve Engineering Pty Ltd v Apollo General Engineering (Aust) Pty Ltd (in liq) [2017] VSCA 182 (7 July 2017): power to make a substitution order, exercise of discretion, Rule 9.09 of the Civil Procedure Rules

July 23, 2017

The Victorian Court of Appeal in Culve Engineering Pty Ltd v Apollo General Engineering (Aust) Pty Ltd (in liq) [2017] VSCA 182 considered the scope and operation of Rules to permit a substitution order being made.

FACTS

The third applicant, Sandra Cerrato, was the executrix of the deceased estate of her father, Rocco Cerrato who . Mr Cerrato died on 14 August 2014 [1]. Prior to and in  2010 Mr Cerrato was a director of the first applicant, Culve Engineering Pty Ltd (‘Culve Engineering’), the second applicant, Tena Denham Nominees Pty Ltd (‘Tena Denham’), and the first respondent, Apollo General Engineering (Aust) Pty Ltd (in liquidation) (‘Apollo’) [2]. Ms Cerrato was joined as a defendant to this proceeding in her capacity as executrix in substitution for her father by an order made by an associate judge on 18 September 2015. She and the other applicants unsuccessfully appealed that decision to a judge in the Trial Division [3].

Prior to 21 April 2010 Apollo carried on Read the rest of this entry »

Golden Taste Investment Pty Ltd v Laurence & Ors [2016] VSC 250 (16 May 2016): Summary judgment application by plaintiff

May 17, 2016

In Golden Taste Investment Pty Ltd v Laurence & Ors [2016] VSC 250 Derham AsJ considered the plaintiff’s application for summary judgment under section 63 of the Civil Procedure Act 2010.

FACTS

The plaintiff is the master franchisee for the Cacao Green and Red Mango franchises for Australia and operates retail stores in Victoria selling frozen yogurt and coffee products [2].

The first defendant (‘Daniel’) was a director and Read the rest of this entry »

Re Manlio (No 2) [2016] VSC 130 (8 April 2016): Overarching obligations, Civil Procedure Act, ss 16, 18, 21 – 23 and 29

April 11, 2016

In Re Manlio (No 2) [2016] VSC 130 Justice MacDonald took quite serious action under powers under the Civil Procedure Act 2010 (the “CPA”) with significant consequences for a counsel involved in the case. This decision relates to the conduct of the legal representatives, not the substantive case itself. That decision was handed down on 21 December 2015 in Re Manlio [2015] VSC 733.

It is a particularly informative decision as to Read the rest of this entry »

Cohen & Ors v Amberley Corporation Australia Pty Ltd [2016] VSC 140 (8 April 2016): trusts, discovery relating to administration of a trust, adequacy of pleadings

In Cohen & Ors v Amberley Corporation Australia Pty Ltd [2016] VSC 140 Derham AsJ considered an application for discovery in relation to the administration by a trustee of a discretionary trust. What started out as a consideration of the plaintiff’s application concluded with part of the statement of claim being struck out. It is a very useful decision in the practical side of pleading breach of trust, which can be quite complicated.

FACTS

The plaintiffs are the children of Harold Campbell-Pretty (‘Harold’) and Kerry Ainley Watkins (‘Kerry’). After 2 divorces he ultimately  married Krystyna Campbell-Pretty (‘Krystyna’) [3].  On 27 March 1975, the Campbell-Pretty Family Trust was established by a deed of settlement (‘Trust’ or ‘Trust Deed’). Under its terms Harold was specified as the Appointor and each of the plaintiffs were specified as Primary Beneficiaries [4].  

There were two variations to the Trust Deed:

  • on 29 December 1987 the defendant was appointed Trustee in place of the previous Trustee. From about December 1986, Krystyna and Harold were the directors of the defendant. On 29 December 1987, Krystyna was appointed as an additional member of the class of General Beneficiaries under the Trust [5];
  • on  8 July 2005, the defendant as Trustee of the Trust purported to exercise a power given by clause 20 of the Trust Deed declaring that the plaintiffs were ‘deleted’ as Primary Beneficiaries under the Trust. Harold, as Appointor, consented to the variation [6].

Harold died on 25 May 2014.  Krystyna was his executrix.  The plaintiffs received nothing.

Breach of trust claim

The plaintiffs pleaded Read the rest of this entry »

B J Bearings Pty Ltd v Whitehead [2016] VSC 44 (11 February 2016): preliminary discovery, Rules 32.05

February 18, 2016

In B J Bearings Pty Ltd v Whitehead [2016] VSC 44 Hargrave J considered an application for preliminary discovery and set out the applicable principles.  It is a useful Read the rest of this entry »

Federal Court Amendment (Electronic Court File Measures No. 1) Rules 2013 comes into effect tomorrow, 26 November 2013

November 25, 2013

The Federal Court Rules 2011 have been amended to support the first stage of the implementation in the Federal Court of an electronic court file.

The amendments will make relatively minor changes to such things as the use of stamps and seals; preparation and lodging of documents; redacting, amending and removing documents; and producing documents for inspection or in compliance with a subpoena.

According to the notification from the Fedeal Court the the Amendment Rules will:

1. amend subrules 2.01(2) and (3) and paragraph 39.35(1)(b) and Schedule 1 to clarify that either the seal of the Court (for convenient processing electronically) or the stamp of a District Registry (for convenient processing in paper) can be used;

2. insert new rules Read the rest of this entry »