B&B Owner refused injunction

Court refuses to grant interim injunction but orders disclosure of complaints

The High Court has refused to grant an interim injunction against Airbnb to stop the company from discussing complaints received against a B&B owner with third parties as there was no risk of it doing so.  The court granted an order requiring the company to disclose details of the complaints to the B&B owner.

The dispute arose after Airbnb removed the claimant from its website, after receiving a complaint about him, and emailed his upcoming bookings stating that he had violated its terms of services. The claimant had been given the christian name of the complainant, and stated that he had received a massage from her and discussed her private life, but that nothing untoward had happened. Another unrelated complaint had also been received.

Moloney J refused to grant an injunction in defamation, as although the emails were arguably defamatory, there was no risk of the defendant repeating them.

The Judge ordered that the complaints themselves be disclosed to the claimant solely for the confidential purpose of this litigation, as although there was a duty of confidentiality to the complainants, the documents would be disclosable in proceedings in any event.

The court also refused to grant an injunction requiring the claimant’s reinstatement on the Airbnb website. There were two serious factors weighing against the grant of such an injunction: (1)  The express terms of the contract permitted the company to terminate the relationship summarily at its discretion, and (2) there having been two complaints about the claimant the company had grounds to question his propriety and had not yet fully investigated. The only factor weighing in the claimant’s favour was his need for short term income, but he could seek to let his property via other means. The weakness of his case and concerns about the complaints outweighed this need and no mandatory injunction should be granted.

5RB‘s Adam Wolanski represents the Defendant, Airbnb.