This article was published on April 11, 2012

French court declares itself competent to judge Facebook

French court declares itself competent to judge Facebook

In an interesting turn of events, a French court declared itself competent to judge a case against Facebook, the French regional newspaper Ouest-France reports.

The lawsuit was brought forward by a French user based in Bayonne, who complains that he suffered damages when the social network decided to close his accounts. While the court of appeal of Pau hasn’t fully examined his specific case yet, it has already clarified that the lawsuit can take place in France.

This is a fairly bold decision; in its terms of service, Mark Zuckerberg’s company determines that Delaware’s law will be applicable and that California’s courts will be the default jurisdiction for any dispute that may emerge.

However, the French magistrates deemed this clause irrelevant, and their reasoning is quite interesting. For instance, they insisted on the fact that Facebook’s ToS are difficult to browse. Not only is the controversial mention “lost in the middle of many other clauses, which aren’t numbered” but the document is hard to read, even more so “for the average skilled French Internet user on a mobile or a computer screen”.

As a result, the court decided to consider that French users couldn’t knowingly consent to making the US the default jurisdiction of their contract with Facebook.

If it wasn’t enough, this decision also points out that Facebook gets a financial return for the services it provides. Even if it claims it is free, its users actually hand out personal data, which represents “a sizable source of revenue” for the company, the court wrote.

What do you think of this decision? Let us know in the comments.