Defamation Law

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Defamation is one of the most complex torts to litigate in Ontario, and should be handled by an experienced defamation lawyer. A simple review of the Libel and Slander Act will unfortunately not contain all of the necessary legal rules and principles that apply to the law of defamation. 

Defamation often occurs on social media, and people are often surprised to learn that you certainly can be sued for comments made on social media.

There are two types of defamation in Ontario: slander (spoken) and libel (written). To prove defamation, a plaintiff must prove all of the following on a balance of probabilities:

 

  • that the impugned words were defamatory, in the sense that they would tend to lower the plaintiff's reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person;

 

  • that the words in fact referred to the plaintiff; and

 

  • that the words were published, meaning that they were communicated to at least one person other than the plaintiff

 

There is no requirement upon the plaintiff to prove that the defendant actually meant to do any harm, or that the allegedly defamatory comments were false or caused damage.

 

If the plaintiff can establish the above three points, then it is up to the defendant to present an effective defence.

Common Defences

The most common defences to a defamation lawsuit are as follows:

 

  • truth (known as justification)

  • absolute privilege

  • qualified privilege

  • fair comment

  • responsible communication on matters of public interest

  • innocent dissemination

If you have questions about defamation law, then feel free to book a free consultation with us.