Internet Info Accepted In Court

by Barbara Gayle

Daily Gleaner; 23rd February 1996; Jamaica

Press Index

The Supreme Court has made a landmark ruling in the legal battle between fast food giants McDonald's Corporation of the US and a Jamaican company, McDonald's Corporation Ltd., when it held that information beamed on the internet was admissable in court.

This was the first local ruling in relation to information found on the worldwide computer network.

The admissability of information from the Internet was argued before Mr Justice Chester Orr, Senior Puisne Judge, in the summonses brought by the companies, each seeking to prevent the other from doing business in the Corporate Area.

The American company wants its locals namesake to cease operating under that name, accusing the company of imitating its logos and signs and of falsely misleading the public that it is associated with its company.

Meanwhile, the local McDonald's, located at 1 Cargill Avenue, Kingston, is seeking an injunction to bar the American company from opening any restaurants in the Corporate Area. It has denied allegations by the American company and states that it has been operating in Jamaica since 1971.

The American company known for its Golden Arches, opened a store in Montego Bay last Septmeber and announced then that it would be opening others in the Corporate Area.

Lawyers representing the parties asked the judge to make a ruling on Tuesday in relation to information from the Internet. Vincent Chang, managing director of the Jamaican company,

said in his affadavit that various employees of the American company had admitted in court proceedings in England that some customers had suffered food poisoning after eating hamburgers, and in addition, that the American company did not coolk its hamburgers at the proper temperature. He said that the source of this information was the Internet.

Lawyer for the American company, Allen Wood, argued that the Internet was not a reliable source of information and asked the judge to cast it aside.

However, B St Michael Hylton, Q.C., argued on behalf of the Jamaican company that the information was very relevant, as the American company had made claims in the case that their food was of a better standard than the local company.

Mr Justice Orr ruled in favour of the Jamaican company and ordered that the evidence was admissable.

The hearing of the summonses began in chamberrs on Monday and is expected to last for more than a week. More than 20 affadavits, which total some 900 pages, have been filed by the parties.

The parties are seeking injunctions (restraining orders) against each other until the suits they filed have been determined by the court.

Also appearing for the American company are Attorneys at Law R.N.A. Henriques, Q.C., and Anne-Marie Feanny of Livingston, Alexander and Levy. The Jamaican company is also represented by Peter Goldson, Debbie Fraser and Roderick Gordon of Myers, Fletcher and Gordon.

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