High Court Steps In to Protect Google from ‘Obsessed’ Litigant

Everyone is entitled to access to justice and to issue court proceedings – but that has to be balanced against the rights of those on the receiving end of groundless claims not to be subjected to constant litigation. In one case, the High Court took firm steps to bring to an end a woman’s legal campaign against Internet giant Google.

The woman had launched a series of claims against Google, alleging that it was responsible for certain Internet content to which she objected. Her first claim was struck out after a judge found that it was entirely without merit, but that did not dissuade her from lodging a number of further claims on very similar grounds. A pattern had emerged of her issuing proceedings before withdrawing them.

Although she had been ordered to pay legal costs exceeding £100,000, she had said that she was without means and had no intention of paying them. The Court found that her behaviour had become obsessional and had caused inconvenience, and a degree of harassment, to Google employees and members of its legal team. In those circumstances, the Court issued a civil restraint order which had the effect of preventing her from launching further proceedings without judicial permission.