Justice is Open to All

Large corporations use the law, as opposed to being bound by the law. For the ordinary person the law is something that has to be obeyed and if you do not obey the law you must be prepared to face the consequences. For the multinationals the law is something to be avoided, and where possible, swerved, because the multinationals have the power and the money to do this.

In the United Kingdom there have been many examples of large corporations frustrating, delaying and sometimes defeating laws enacted by a reasonably democratic process. It took many years for the UK authorities to bring the banks to account for their virtually fraudulent practices in selling personal protection insurance. It took many years for the authorities to designate certain types of insurance is being nonsensical and give the buyers of these insurance policies some right to reclaim money paid as premiums for policies which gave no benefits. The scandal of the way in which the banks pushed small businesses into entering into long-term complex swap transactions which neither the banks nor the small businesses properly understood, and which had a “heads I win tails you lose” aspect about it has still not been fully resolved and will rumble on for many years.

The large corporations fight any investigation into their wrongdoing tooth and nail. Recently two British claimants sued the mighty Google Inc for misuse of private information, breach of confidence and contravention of the Data Protection Act. Google had done what it always does; it had tracked and collated information about the way in which these claimants used the Internet search engine.

Google of course will wish to defend this claim because if the claim succeeds it opens the floodgates to other claims and will seriously impact upon the way in which Google makes money in the United Kingdom, and Google does make a great deal of money in the United Kingdom although not appear to pay any corporation tax.

Google’s first reaction to the claim was to argue that because it was a Californian company the claim should be heard in California, where the relevant documents are likely to be. This was just the first line of defence that Google has taken. If it were to succeed in having the claim brought in the United States, as opposed to the claim being brought in England and Wales, then the law of England and Wales would be dealt with in California on the basis of expert evidence, as opposed to an English judge finding what the law is.

The English court has ruled that the claim against Google should be heard in England. The claimants’ residence in England, and bringing the claim in California would be burdensome; the judge also ruled “it would be better for all parties that issues of English law be resolved by an English court, with the usual right of appeal, which would not be available if the issues were resolved by an American court deciding English law as a question of fact”.

As you would expect from a large wealthy and powerful corporation Google will appeal against the finding of the English court. When it loses its appeal, as I believe it will, it will continue fight with all its resources and claimants may expect a final determination in several years from now, which will at least give Google the advantage of continuing its highly profitable operations in United Kingdom in the way it does at the moment regardless of whether it is in breach of the law or not and quite regardless of the fact that laws that are in issue were enacted by a democratic process of a sovereign state.

A small individual who is sued for breach of confidence, breach of data protection rules, and misuse of private information, will find the case rapidly concluded, especially if the resources of a wealthy claimant enabled the claimant to overwhelm the small individual defendant. It has always been said that justice, like the doors of the Savoy Hotel, is open to all. It is not enough to justice to open its doors, it must ensure that once the parties are inside they are not oppressed by a labyrinthine complex and expensive system which favours the wealthy.

4 Responses

  1. This is what is happening, and coming to a place near you.

    Passionate but true.

  2. I hope justice comes for these vagabonds very soon.

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