In Chief Commissioner of State Revenue (for the state of New South Wales, Australia) v Babatunde, 2017 SKQB 3, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench (Court) dismissed a claim for lack of territorial competence or jurisdiction where the Defendant’s only connection to Saskatchewan was the accessibility of its government website in the province. The individual Plaintiff sought payment of a substantial amount of unpaid balances against the Chief Commissioner of State Revenue for New South Wales, Australia. The Court found that “the mere accessibility of a website on the internet does not mean that the owner of the website is conducting business in a particular jurisdiction.”
The Plaintiff attempted to rely on the British Columbia Court of Appeal’s decision in Equustek Solutions Inc v Google (2015 BCCA 265) to argue that the Defendant conducted business in Saskatchewan, since its website permitted users to transact business from that jurisdiction. The Court distinguished the Plaintiff’s claim from Equustek decision, which involved a provincial Court’s power to issue a worldwide injunction against a search provider. The Court found that the BC Court in Equustek asserted jurisdiction based on factors beyond mere access to the website in BC, for instance, Google’s practice of gathering of information in BC through the use of web crawlers.
The Equustek decision has been appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which granted leave to hear the appeal in February 2016. The hearing took place on December 6, 2016, but a decision has not yet been released. For more discussion of the Equustek decision and its effects on subsequent decisions, see our coverage here and here.