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MITIGATING RISKS IN USING DIGITAL PLATFORMS

The world is relying on digital platforms to survive. A company/person could be found liable in damages to a wider number of people that rely on its digital services. We have outlined a few cases involving some aspects of digital platforms to help you mitigate your risks as you embrace technology in all your operations or as you provide digital solutions to others.

Building Of Software

The Court in St Albans City and District Council v International Computers Ltd [1996] 4 All ER 481 held the Defendant company liable for damages to the Claimant for an error in the software the Defendant produced for the Claimant’s computer system.

The Claimant had contracted with the Defendant company to supply a software for its computer system to enable the Claimant to extract the population figures in collection of community charge. However, due to an error in the software the figure was overstated by 2,966 and the Claimant’s charge receipts were affected. The Claimants sued the Defendant company for damages.

Website And Internet Publications

In Patchett and Anor v Swimming Pool & Allied Trades Association Ltd [2009] EWCA Civ 717 The Court held the Defendant not liable for the financial loss  the Claimant occasioned as a result of an uncompleted work carried out by a contractor represented in the Defendants site.

Here, the Claimant based on information put up by the Defendant on its website entered a contract with a contractor listed on the Defendant’s website for the construction of their swimming pool. The contractor breached the terms of the contract and the Claimant sued the Defendant’s for recovery of the financial loss occasioned.

In Spreadex Ltd v Cochrane [2012] All ER (D) 152, where the Claimant was a spread betting bookmaker, the Defendant made use of the Claimant’s website to carry out trading in commodities. On an occasion, the Defendant discovered that activities were carried out on the site without his knowledge and he experienced financial loss which the Claimant sued for immediate payment.

The Court held that the Claimant had failed to establish the existence of a legal contract to host and give binding effect to Customer Agreement, so as to supplant the need for the individual trades to be concluded or authorized by the defendant.

More so, in Godfrey v Demon Internet Ltd [1999] All ER (D) 376, The Defendant was an Internet Service Provider (ISP) carrying on a business in England and Wales. A defamatory posting was made on his site and he was informed of it by the Plaintiff to put down the posting as it was forged. The Defendant failed to put down the posting and the Plaintiff sued. The Court held that the Defendant knew of the defamatory posting but chose not to remove it from its Usenet news-servers and as such liable to the Plaintiff and could not claim innocent dissemination.

The District Court in United States v. Nicholas Palumbo DocketNo.20-CV-473  issued a preliminary injunction that barred the Defendants from operating as intermediate voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) carriers during the pendency of the civil action. In this case, the Defendants operated as VoIP carrier, receiving internet- based calls from other entities  often located abroad, and transmitting those calls first to other carriers within the United States and, ultimately, to the phones of individuals, which were used to carryout fraudulent government and business imposter robocalls to victims in the United States

Upon being sued, the District Court held, in a written opinion, that the evidence presented by the United States demonstrated probable cause to conclude that the Defendants were engaged in “widespread patterns of telecommunications fraud, intended to deprive call recipients in the Eastern District of New York and elsewhere of money and property

 Social Media Publications

In Chambers v Director of Public Prosecutions [2013] 1 All ER 149 the Appellant made a comment on twitter about blowing up Robin Hood Airport for their closing down due to bad weather which affected his travel plans. The Defendant taking such comment to be of a menacing character and a criminal offence, sued the Appellant and obtained judgment against him.

The Court held that the comment posted by the Appellant to his twitter account was not menacing under the communication Act 2003 and the actus reus of the offence was not made out. His conviction was quashed.

For more on this, kindly send an email to amarachi@tonbofa.com.

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