Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, the two partners behind now-dissolved Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co, filed a claim to the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut seeking damages and to stop the film’s release on the platform tomorrow (October 18). The lawyers are depicted in the movie by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas.
In response, Netflix’s 44-page filing says that the claim “should be denied for a host of reasons” and that the film is “constitutionally protected speech”.
“As the U.S. Supreme Court long ago recognized: ‘The importance of motion pictures as an organ of public opinion is not lessened by the fact that they are designed to entertain as well as to inform’,” reads the document. You can read Netflix’s filing in full here.
Netflix’s document describes Steven Soderbergh’s film, which is based on events from the Panama Papers data leak, as “intended to bring attention to the abuse of offshore shell corporations and tax shelters, and it is an indictment of the legal system that permits them”.
It calls Mossack Fonseca’s motion a “virtually unheard of prior restraint on speech” and an “affront to established First Amendment principle”.
The filling claims the pair “have utterly failed to demonstrate the irreparable harm that is an essential prerequisite to the emergency relief they seek”, and that the timing of the motion, which comes more than a month after the film’s premiere at the Venice Film Festival and also after its limited theatrical run, “compels the conclusion that there is no urgency or irreparable harm”.
The document describes the partners’ claims of “tarnishment” of reputation [by use of the firm’s logo] as “laughable, given that the Complaint acknowledges that their reputations have already been so blackened as a result of the spotlight that the international press has been shining on Plaintiffs for the last three and a half years – the result of which was the loss of all of their clients, banks refusing to do business with them and the shuttering of their business.”
“Plaintiffs should not be allowed to benefit from a purported emergency of their own making; if anything, they should be penalized for their delay, which eviscerates their assertions of irreparable harm,” the document adds.
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