Appeals court rejects internet provider shareholder’s claim of defamation

Tbilisi Court of Appeal rejected the defamation claim of the owner of Neqsol Holding against the Georgian National Communication Commission. Photo: Tbilisi Court of Appeal, 14 Feb 2023 - 15:18, Tbilisi,Georgia

Tbilisi Court of Appeal on Tuesday rejected the defamation claim of the owner of Neqsol Holding, an Azerbaijani company that acquired shares in the Georgian internet provider Caucasus Online in 2019 and 2020, against the Georgian National Communication Commission.

The ruling rejected the appeal of Nasib Hasanov, who had alleged “defamation of honour and dignity” from the regulatory body overseeing broadcasting and electronic communications in the country, following the latter’s public statements around the “illegal” purchases of shares in the company by Neqsol.

Hasanov's lawsuit came after the Commission made "several public statements" to inform the public about two purchases of stakes in Caucasus Online by Neqsol, the first of which gave the latter 49 percent of shares in 2019 and the second acquired the rest of the shares for the Azerbaijani company in 2020.

The national body alleged the acquisition had been made “in violation of several lawsuits” and rendered “illegal” by Neqsol’s failure to agree them with the regulatory body.

Tuesday’s decision by Tbilisi Court of Appeals rejected Hasanov’s claim of defamation by ruling the Commission’s statements had served to fulfil its obligation of “sharing its reasonable views” around the acquisitions of Caucasus Online shares with the public.

In 2020 Neqsol said it would sue the Georgian Government in the International Court of Arbitration for appointing a special manager to the board of Caucasus Online who had been given the authority to dismiss directors, members of the supervisory board and employees of the company, and suspend or restrict its right of distribution.