Israeli Court Might not Let Facebook off the Hook on Litigating in Israel

A recent decision by the Israeli Court for the District of Jerusalem suggests that lawsuits filed by Israeli Facebook users against the social network, may force Facebook to litigate in Israel, rather than California. The decision was delivered on a lawsuit filed by an Israeli Facebook user who sought court judgment that would prohibit Facebook from deleting content he posted and from blocking his access to Facebook, absent justification and without offering him an opportunity to voice his objections against such actions. 
The plaintiff filed the lawsuit after he launched a Facebook page named “Aggrieved by Shai Piron” (Mr. Shai Piron was, until recently, the Israeli Minister of Education). The apparent purpose of that Facebook page was to disclose information on detriments that the former minister allegedly caused. The plaintiff alleges that after he launched that Facebook page, Facebook blocked his account for several days and deleted content he posted.
The civil complaint was delivered to Facebook Inc. (in California) and Facebook Ireland Inc., both through an extraterritorial service of process. Facebook subsequently filed a motion to quash the extraterritorial service of process, on the basis of Facebook’s terms of use which stipulate certain governing law and jurisdiction provisions. Under those terms, legal action by users against Facebook must be lodged with courts in California and be subject to California law. 
The Israeli District Court found a good arguable case in the plaintiff’s claim that Facebook’s governing law and jurisdiction provisions are “unduly disadvantageous stipulations”, pursuant to the Israeli Standard Contracts Law, 5743-1982 (i.e. one of the primary consumer protection statutes in Israel, which governs contracts of adhesion and the Israeli equivalent of the doctrine of contractual unconscionability). The Court opined that if it is ultimately determined that the lawsuit may be adjudicated in Israel, Facebook’s governing law and jurisdiction provisions will be governed by Israeli law’s presumption of “undue disadvantage” (akin to a presumption of unconscionability).
The cornerstone of the decision is in the Court’s holding that when an Israeli user is involved, regarding an Israeli Facebook account that is administered in Hebrew, with a Facebook page that publishes content in Hebrew, regarding matters of public concern in Israel, and when the plaintiff’s access is blocked while he resides in Israel – the blocking that Facebook allegedly performed ought to be considered to have been directed to the plaintiff in Israel. Based on that holding, the Court consequently concluded that a sufficient legal cause exists pursuant to the Israeli Civil Procedure Regulations, to compel Facebook to litigate in Israel. 
However, the plaintiff failed to meet the additional burden that Israeli law sets forth for an extraterritorial service of process: substantiating that the lawsuit raises “a serious question to adjudicate”. Accordingly, the Court ultimately quashed the extraterritorial service of process. {For the full Court decision, in Hebrew: Originating Summons 12816-08-13 Weil v. Facebook Inc.}.