In the recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Theralase Technologies Inc. v. Lanter, 2020 ONSC 205, (“Theralase Technologies Inc.”) the court granted judgment in libel against anonymous and unidentified bloggers. In his reasons, Justice Myers held that the court has jurisdiction to grant judgment against unidentified defendants, despite the fact that the plaintiffs and the court do not know the defendant’s name, for defamatory statements published on the internet, “where a form of service can reasonably be expected to bring court proceedings to the attention of an unidentified defendant at whom the litigation finger has been appropriately pointed…” While noting that nothing in the Rules of Civil Procedure anticipates final judgments being granted against unidentified defendants, because civil proceedings generally involve claims and judgments in personam (against a person), the court observed that there are many cases started with placeholder names like “John Doe” pending the identification of … Read More
In Paramount v. Johnston, 2018 ONSC 3711 (CanLII), the Ontario Court considered whether to dismiss a defamation claim based on the anti-SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) provision of the Court of Justice Act (section 137). We have previously blogged on the new anti-SLAPP provision: see our earlier post “Court Awards Damages to Defendant in Defamation Case”. In Paramount v. Johnston, the plaintiff company operates a number of middle-eastern restaurants. The plaintiff company was owned by the individual plaintiffs. The plaintiff company was hosting a fundraiser organised for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A protest had been organised outside the restaurant to coincide with the fundraiser. The defendants alleged that they attended at the restaurant for the protest. The defendants allegedly defamed the plaintiffs in a total of eight videos taken on the day of the protest. One of the defendants brought a motion to dismiss the claim against him based … Read More
In Haaretz.com v. Goldhar, 2018 SCC 28 (CanLII), the Supreme Court considered whether a defamation claim brought by the plaintiff in Ontario should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or, alternatively, for a more convenient forum. The the plaintiff is a prominent Canadian businessman who owns a large real-estate investment company in Ontario. He also owns a popular professional soccer teams in Israel. He is well known in Israel, maintains a residence there, and travels there every few months. The corporate defendants publish a daily newspaper in Israel in both English and Hebrew, which is distributed in print and online. The newspaper has a distribution of about 70,000 print copies in Israel. The individual defendants are the newspaper’s former sports editor and the author of the allegedly libellous article. The defendants published an article about the plaintiff’s ownership and management of the soccer teams in Israel. The article also referenced … Read More
In Walsh Energy Inc. v. Better Business Bureau of Ottawa-Hull Incorporated, 2018 ONCA 383, the Court of Appeal considered a defamation claim against the Better Business Bureau (“BBB”). The plaintiff company had failed to respond to a customer complaint using the BBB protocol, and did not resolve the complaint independently. The BBB changed changed the plaintiff’s rating on its website from “satisfactory” to “unsatisfactory”. About a year later, the BBB adopted a new ratings system, and assigned the plaintiff a “grade” of D-. The plaintiff brought a claim against the BBB in defamation, alleging that the D- grade caused it substantial damages. On appeal, the Court of Appeal considered (1) whether the D- grade was defamatory, and (2) whether the publication was protected by the defence of fair comment. In respect of (1), the Court stated that the trial judge was wrong to only consider whether the D- grade was … Read More
Andrew Ottaway was asked to comment about online defamation and the potential risks of posting material online. See the video here. The lawyers at Gilbertson Davis have experience with libel and slander claims, including online defamation. Please contact us for an initial consultation.
In United Soils Management Inc. v. Mohammed, 2017 ONSC 4450, the Plaintiff operated a gravel pit in the municipality of Whitchurch-Stouffville. The municipal council voted to allow the Plaintiff to deposit fill onto certain sites. The Defendant was a member of the community, who was concerned about contamination from the deposits. The Defendant posted on the internet regarding her concerns. The Plaintiff demanded that the Defendant cease posting and apologize. In response, the Defendant posted a retraction and apology. Nevertheless, the Plaintiff commenced a claim against the Defendant claiming damages for defamation. The Defendant brought a motion to dismiss the action under section 137.1(3) of the Courts of Justice Act, a provision resulting from the Anti-SLAPP (Strategic lawsuit against public participation) legislation. Section 137.1(3) requires the Court to dismiss claims where the Defendant proves that the proceeding arises from “expression” related to “a matter of public interest”, subject … Read More
The Ontario Court of Appeal recently released its decision in John v. Ballingall, et al, 2017 ONCA 579, which confirmed that online versions of newspapers are subject to the protections found in Ontario’s Libel and Slander Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. L.12 (the “Act”). The Act provides for certain notice and limitation periods, which if not met, may act as a bar for any future defamation actions. Specifically, Section 5(1) of the Act provides that no action for libel in a “newspaper” or “broadcast” lies unless the plaintiff has, within six weeks after the alleged libel has come to the plaintiff’s knowledge, given the defendant notice in writing of the specific matter complained of. Section 6 of the Act provides that an action for libel in a “newspaper” or “broadcast” shall be commenced within three months after the libel has come to the knowledge of the plaintiff. In this decision, the plaintiff (a rapper known as Avalanche the Architect) commenced an action for libel against the Toronto Star because … Read More