Friday, May 24, 2013

Kijji and Tim Bosma

Could Kijji be found liable for the wrongful death of Tim Bosma?

The question is not trivial as enormous numbers of people, previously unknown to each other, now meet online to trade goods, services or find a new boyfriend or girlfriend.  

The question revolves around the concept of negligence. Basically the law imposes liability if someone was careless in a situation where they ought to have known their carelessness could cause harm and harm occurred. Now that's a mouthful of a sentence but it breaks down easily enough. 

Did Kijji know that its web trading site could put someone in harms way?  The answer there seems a pretty clear yes. Are Kijji users people who Kijji ought to know could be affected by Kijji being careless? Again a pretty clear yes. Was Tim Bosma and his family harmed? Again a yes. 

But here things become a bit more tricky. Was Kijji careless and if so did that carelessness cause Mr Bosma's harm?

Kijji has a series of safety tips on its site. One provides:

"•When buying or selling, you should meet in-person to see the product and exchange funds. Meet in a public place with many people around, such as a coffee shop. "

Is this enough?  Was Kijji careless at all?  After all Kijji does not say they screen anyone and the service is free for most users. In a way Kijji is merely a bulletin board, similar to those used in rural grocers for a place to buy and sell. Absent some special cause to be alarmed Kijji likely acted reasonably enough. 

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't believe Kijiji should be held liable, but their haste to publish a statement claiming that Tim Bosma didn't have any personal information in his ad disgusts me. I have seen many Kijiji ads with phone numbers right in the text of the ad, and there is no way for Kijiji to know whether his number was in the ad at some point, and thus no way for them to claim no connection. They are too eager to distance themselves from a situation that most people wouldn't have blamed them for anyway.

Ernest Julius Guiste said...

Do they owe a duty of care ?

Ernest Julius Guiste said...

Do they owe a duty of care ?

Anonymous said...

Yes. Kijiji has a clear liability to explain exactly "why" they suggest it be in a public place, ect. Also, for Kijiji to exclude itself from liability so quickly (when his number was in ad) is appalling. If kijiji offered a "user" account that validated all users by way of IP and email validation, this wouls have been a great deterrant to these monsters. Just my opnion.

Anonymous said...

I think thereof a duty from the neighbor principle

Anonymous said...

Of course not, unless you are to willing to also hold Newspaper classifieds, buy and trade rags, the phone book, or the entire Internet in general accountable. The bottom line is that bad people will sometimes use services for nefarious purposes. The vast majority of people will not. This is the price we pay and the risk we take when we enjoy the freedoms that we do.