Toronto Defamation Action Lawyers
Libel, Slander and Business Interference
Online Libel of Businesses and Professionals

Defamation, Libel, and Slander Actions
Tortious Interference | Interference with Economic Interests | Conspiracy

Defamation is the publication of false statements to others. It can come in a variety of ways, both orally (slander) and in writing (libel), including in newspapers and broadcasts (radio, television, etc.) and can negatively impact your business and personal reputation.

Damage to Reputation

Businesses, professionals, authors, public figures and others put immense time and resources into developing a strong and positive reputation, all of which can be put in jeopardy when damaging false statements are published, whether in conversation, traditional media, and especially online. Often, the scope and lasting nature of the harm caused by these statements cannot be easily quantified.

Anonymous Authors and Publishers

The identity of individuals who are engaged in defamation is not always initially known. Lawsuits for defamation against anonymous persons are often brought in the courts as so-called John Doe and Jane Doe actions. The legal process of the court may lead to the identity of the wrongdoers. Injunctions against unknown wrongdoers to restrain continuing or imminent breaches are also sometimes granted by the courts.

Business Defamation

It is important to recognize that corporations can be defamed and corporations can defame. When a business’ livelihood often depends on its reputation, there is recourse available for defamatory statements that damage said reputation and cause economic losses as a result.

Under Ontario’s Libel and Slander Actat section 16 it is stated that it is not necessary to allege or prove special damages when the slander affects official, professional, or business reputation. This means that businesses may have a cause of action without having to prove such special damages, as they will be presumed. Gilbertson Davis LLP can advise you as to how this provision may be advantageous to protecting your interests. Gilbertson Davis LLP can also advise you as to how damages for a corporation that has been defamed differ from damages for an individual that has been defamed.

SLAPP Proceedings | Anti-SLAPP Legislation

SLAPP proceedings (a strategic lawsuit against public participation) are used to wear down the opposing party in order to silence public discourse. SLAPP proceedings typically occur in the context of protests against a mode of corporate behaviour. SLAPP proceedings are not legitimate defamation claims as they lack an underlying cause of action, and typically occur when there is a power imbalance between the parties. As a result, “Anti-SLAPP” proceedings have become available to ensure that parties legitimate interests are protected.

When faced with a SLAPP proceeding, a party can bring under Ontario’s Rules of Civil Procedures section 21 motion to strike or a motion under 37.16 to prohibit the opposing side from bringing further motions without leave. Anti-SLAPP proceedings can also be brought under section 137.1 of the Courts of Justice Act as a party found to be engaging in SLAPP may be open to substantial indemnity costs being awarded against them.  

Gilbertson Davis LLP has lawyers with experience in this practice area that can advise you as to how not to fall into the category of SLAPP proceedings, and in the event that a SLAPP proceeding is being brought against you, how to respond accordingly with Anti-SLAPP proceedings.

Intentional Interference with Economic Interests or Conspiracy

In some cases, people may engage in wrongful conduct against your clients, suppliers, or other businesses associated with you, with the goal of causing you harm or where it is likely to cause you harm. Even if the wrongdoers are not engaging in wrongful conduct against you directly, it is possible to maintain an action against them to protect your legitimate economic interests. Similarly, there are also potential remedies where multiple persons agree to engage in unlawful conduct and one or more take steps to advance that agreement, which could include the publication of defamatory remarks. It is important to retain prompt legal advice from lawyers who are experienced with these types of cases.

Intrusion Upon Seclusion

Individuals and businesses should remain alert to the possibility of attracting liability through the recently developed privacy tort of intrusion upon seclusion.  Courts will impose liability for unlawful privacy invasions that are intentional or reckless, provided that a reasonable person would regard the invasion as highly offensive causing distress, humiliation or anguish.  Importantly, liability attaches even without any harm to an economic interest.

Courts recognize a variety of categories – such as financial data, health records, employment information and private correspondence –  as included within privacy rights.  Significantly, Ontario courts have not eliminated the possibility of holding businesses accountable for third-party privacy invasions.  Consequently, businesses that learn of a vulnerability in their cybersecurity may be held accountable if their failure to correct the susceptibility results in a hacking of private data.

Urgent Remedies

In any defamation action, it is important to move promptly to protect your interests. Depending on the nature of the publication (for instance, in a broadcast or newspaper), it is very important to be aware of and/or know how to comply with the following very short time limits:

Notice of Action time limit for notice to intended defendant under the Libel and Slander Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. L.12

Limitation Period time limit to commence legal proceedings in Ontario under the Libel and Slander Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. L.12

Jurisdictional Concerns

Gilbertson Davis LLP has lawyers with strength and experience in advising foreign clients involved in litigation or arbitration in Ontario and across its borders.

In many cases, the person or company engaging in defamation is not located in the same jurisdiction as you. If you operate in Ontario or have had your reputation damaged in Ontario, you need lawyers with experience handling Ontario litigation in cases where some or all defendants are located in foreign jurisdictions.

Similarly, if you are based in a foreign jurisdiction, actions can be maintained in Ontario if, for example, the person engaging in defamation resides in Ontario, or the wrongful publications occurred in Ontario, or you are seeking to enforce a foreign judgment in Ontario. In these cases, you need local counsel who is familiar with representing and advising foreign clients involved in Ontario litigation.

Some lawyers at Gilbertson Davis LLP often work with conjunction with foreign counsel for foreign clients.

We are consulted by those located in the United States, and in the past have been consulted by or retained in litigation by those (or matters located) in Alaska, California, Washington, Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida and Texas.

Internationally, we have also been involved in litigation or arbitration with clients (or matters) located in the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, England, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Monaco, Guyana, Liberia, South Africa, Angola, The Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Kuwait, India, Bangladesh, South Korea, Hong Kong, PRC and Australia.

Some of our lawyers have been admitted and previously practised law in foreign jurisdictions (including England, Bermuda and New York), have both foreign and local legal education, including in the U.S. and U.K.

Why Gilbertson Davis LLP?

Gilbertson Davis LLP has lawyers who can serve your business defamation needs. We are ethical, practical, and professional. We strive to resolve our clients’ disputes efficiently through the provision of quality service at reasonable rates. Gilbertson Davis LLP has over 35 years of practice in Toronto, Ontario dealing with various related practice areas.

Please contact Gilbertson Davis LLP to arrange an initial consultation.

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