The jugdment on C-251/20, Gtflix, will be published on Tuesday 21. The request for a preliminary reference of the French Cour de Cassation, focused on Article 7(2) of the Brussels I bis Regulation, had triggered a long opinion by M. Hogan (the Irish Advocate General at that point in time). Although he favoured the characterization of the act at stake as a form of malicious falsehood – thus falling under the scope of unfair competition rules- and indicated expressly that “the present case is not the right one for the Court to take a position on whether or not the mosaic approach should be maintained” (point 95), the actual relevance of the case lies precisely there. He himself devoted his opinion to it, providing the Grand Chamber (K. Lenaerts, L. Bay Larsen, A. Arabadjiev, A. Prechal, I. Jarukaitis, N. Jääskinen, T. von Danwitz, L.S. Rossi, A. Kumin, N. Wahl, and M. Safjan as reporting judge) with arguments and counterarguments. It would be disappointing if the Court does not take a stance.
The question was:
‘Must Article 7(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 be interpreted as meaning that a person who, considering that his or her rights have been infringed by the dissemination of derogatory comments on the internet, brings proceedings not only for the rectification of information and the removal of content but also for compensation for the resulting non-material and material damage, may claim, before the courts of each Member State in the territory of which content published online is or was accessible, compensation for the damage caused in the territory of that Member State, in accordance with the judgment in eDate Advertising (paragraphs 51 and 52), or whether, pursuant to the judgment in Svensk Handel (paragraph 48), that person must make the application for compensation before the court with jurisdiction to order rectification of the information and removal of the derogatory comments?’
Advocate General Hogan proposed the following answer:
“Article 7(2) of Regulation No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters must be interpreted as meaning that a claimant who relies on an act of unfair competition consisting in the dissemination of disparaging statements on the internet and who seeks both the rectification of the data and the deletion of certain content and compensation for the non-material and economic damage resulting therefrom, may bring an action or claim before the courts of each Member State in the territory of which content published online is or was accessible, for compensation only for the damage caused in the territory of that Member State. In order, however, for those courts to have the requisite jurisdiction it is necessary that the claimant can demonstrate that it has an appreciable number of consumers in that jurisdiction who are likely to have access to and have understood the publication in question.”