Friday, March 4, 2011

UPDATE: Journal Editor Not Criminally Libel for Defamation for Book Review, French Court Rules

Tribunal d'Instance de ParisImage by bmayer27 via FlickrThe editor in chief of the European Journal of International Law and its Web site offshoot, Global Law Books, has been acquitted of criminal libel by a French court where the victim of an unfavorable book review brought the action, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

The Tribunal de Grand Instance de Paris found against Dr. Karin Calvo-Goller, a senior lecturer at the Ramat Gan, Israel-based Academic Center of Law & Business, whose book received an unfavorable review in April  2007, from Prof. Thomas Weigend, a law professor at the University of Cologne, that was published by defendant, Prof. Joseph H.H. Weiler, a law professor at New York University's School of Law. [See "TUOL" post 3/2/10.] The court's decision this week (No. d'affaire 0718523043 Ministere Public c/Weiler 17eme chamber) said Calvo-Goller's action was brought in "bad faith" and constituted "libel tourism," in awarding Prof. Weiler punitive damages of 8,000 Euros ($11,189). The plaintiff has 10 days to appeal the ruling.

Academic editors and reviewers were aghast when the suit was initiated, citing the reluctance of scholars and editors to publish reviews if the action were successful. The French court, however, said the allegedly defamatory review "expressed a scientific opinion of the book and did not go beyond the kind of criticism to which all authors of intellectual work subject themselves when they publish."

The case, as noted by the Web site, had an international flavor: Dr. Calvo-Goller, who is a French citizen and resides in Israel, wrote the book at issue in English, which was published by a Dutch firm, reviewed in English by a German Professor whose review was published by an American professor in New York. Conflict of  Laws was not "TUOL"'s cup of tea in law school, so we'll leave it at that.

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