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25 May 2010
It referred in the first instance to Ryanair Ltd v Bravofly(3), (for further details please see "High Court declines jurisdiction in screen-scraping case"), in which the court held that there was sufficient consensus to the exclusive jurisdiction clause (which at the time provided for the jurisdiction of the English courts), and granted defendant Travelfusion's application to have the Irish proceedings against it dismissed for want of jurisdiction. The court also referred to the European Court of Justice decision in Estas Salotti v Rua(4), where it held that Article 23:
"imposes upon the Court before which the matter is brought the duty of examining first, whether the clause conferring jurisdiction upon it was in fact the subject of a consensus between the parties which must be clearly and precisely demonstrated".
However, the judge found that argument "unconvincing". He felt that it is often the case that one party sets out certain terms, such as not using the information on a website for commercial purposes without the owner's consent. If another party wishes to flout those terms, it cannot then say that because the term was unilaterally imposed, it has no legal effect. He felt this was precisely what the defendants here were arguing.
The defendants also argued that, irrespective of the validity of the terms, they did not "use" Ryanair's website; their customers did. The court held that the defendants were commercial entities which nonetheless engaged with Ryanair's website for the purpose of scraping information from it for onward transmission to their own customers. Accordingly, it held that asserting the "activity" involved was not "use" of Ryanair's website by the defendants was "an exercise in semantics".
The defendants also alleged that there was no consideration. On this issue, the court considered that the defendants had accepted the offer of information made by Ryanair when they systematically accessed the Ryanair website though the screen-scraping mechanism. On that basis, it was a sufficient act of consideration to make the contract legally binding that Ryanair provided on its site, subject at all times to its terms and conditions, information on its flights and the prices of those flights.
(2) "If the parties, one or more of whom is domiciled in a Member State, have agreed that a court or the courts of a Member State are to have jurisdiction to settle any disputes which have arisen or which may arise in connection with a particular legal relationship, that court or those courts shall have jurisdiction. Such jurisdiction shall be exclusive unless the parties have agreed otherwise."
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