Monday, 27 February 2012

French internet service providers to be financially compensated

Internet service providers in France will be compensated for blocking access to unlicensed gambling websites by the Autorité de Régulation Des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL), France's regulatory body for online gambling stated in a decree it recently issued.

Victoriano Melero, a Partner at Clifford Chance LLP in Paris, points out that the impact of the decree, which came into force on 1 January 2012, "lies mainly in the fact that it ends possible litigation", while Annabelle Richard, a Partner at Ichay & Mullenex Avocats in the French capital, expects that now "the issue of costs has been settled, ARJEL shall face less reluctance from ISPs to block access". 

Service providers have been facing costs since the French Gambling Act was adopted in May 2010, which has given courts the power to order internet service providers block unlicensed websites. Since May, several ISPs have made repeated attempts to challenge the website blocking. 

The French gambling law did state that a decree should be issued specifying how the costs faced by providers are compensated. While French courts have ordered providers to block websites, a German court ruled this week such a move would be in conflict with the European E-Commerce Directive, although Melero thinks "the fact that internet service providers are not responsible for the content of their customers' websites, does not mean that they cannot be subject to enforce a judicial decision". 

Richard also thinks "[Germany and France] boil down to the same principle, only a judicial injunction can compel ISPs to block access to websites". 

Michiel Willems © 2012 CP Publishing Ltd. London, UK. Picture: CP Conferences 2011.