Find Lawyers in Toronto, Ontario for Defamation and Media Law
Peter Downard is a senior litigator and expert in defamation matters. With extensive experience acting as defamation counsel throughout litigation proceedings, he has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada, Ontario Court of Appeal for Ontario, trials and numerous mediations and advisory matters. Peter also has comprehensive experience in commercial litigation and alternative dispute resolution. Peter is the author of The Law of Libel in Canada, referred to as an authority on libel law in...
Ryder practises complex litigation and dispute resolution encompassing corporate-commercial disputes, securities, tax, competition, defamation and class action litigation. He has extensive courtroom experience, having appeared at every level of court in Ontario, as well as the Court of Queen's Bench in New Brunswick, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Tax Court of Canada as well as many administrative tribunals including the Competiti...
Matthew Gottlieb practises business litigation including corporate and commercial disputes, insolvency and restructuring and fraud and securities litigation. Matt’s extensive track record of success in complex, high-stakes disputes explains why he has been recognized as one of Canada’s top litigation lawyers. He has significant expertise in trials, applications, tribunals and arbitrations and regularly appears at all levels of court in Ontario and other provinces, the Federal Cour...
In a career that has spanned more than four decades, Cliff acquired a reputation as an exceptional litigator with a quick sense of humour. He is respected throughout the profession. He is in demand as a mediator and arbitrator by clients who appreciate his extensive experience, business savvy, responsiveness and practical approach to resolving business disputes of all kinds. Chambers Global 2019 lists Cliff amongst Canada’s leading lawyers in Dispute Resolution and most in-demand arbitr...
Brian N. Radnoff is a partner at Lerners LLP in Toronto, in its Commercial Litigation Group. He is the practice group leader of the Appellate Practice Group. Mr. Radnoff’s practice involves work in many facets of commercial and complex litigation. He acts as counsel for clients in a wide variety of commercial disputes, including securities litigation, shareholder disputes, contractual disputes, professional liability, employment claims, administrative law, defamation claims, estate liti...
Mr. Winkler has a well-deserved reputation in the Ontario legal community for good judgment and his practical, fair approach to conflict resolution. Mr. Winkler is Certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a Specialist in Civil Litigation. Mr. Winkler regularly represents both plaintiffs and defendants in complex factual and legal disputes both at trial and at all levels of Appeal. Mr. Winkler specializes in the area of media and defamation law. For media clients this includes the pre-screen...
Defamation and Media Law Definition
Defamation and Media Law involves two separate, but related, areas of practice. Most important is defamation law, which is a cause of action designed to protect and vindicate a person’s reputation. There are two types of defamation, libel, which is written, and slander, which is spoken. In common-law Canada, defamation is governed by long-established common law principles, but there is provincial legislation in most of the provinces, such as the Ontario Libel and Slander Act, that also governs some aspects of defamation law. Canada is generally considered a “plaintiff-friendly” defamation jurisdiction as it is easier for plaintiffs to establish defamation compared to jurisdictions such as the United States. However, damage awards for defamation tend to be relatively small in Canada compared to other jurisdictions. Defamation is considered a fairly technical area of practice that has more strict pleading rules than other causes of action.
In order to succeed in an action for defamation, the plaintiff must prove: that the words in question would tend to lower the plaintiff’s reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person; the words referred to the plaintiff; and the words were communicated to at least one other person than the plaintiff. Falsity and damages are presumed. The defendant has the onus of establishing a defence to the defamation claim, such as truth or justification, absolute privilege, qualified privilege, or fair comment. Absolute privilege refers to occasions when individuals have absolute immunity from defamation claims, such as statements made in the legislature or in court. Qualified privilege refers to a person acting under a legal, moral, or social duty to communicate the impugned information to a person who has a corresponding duty or interest in receiving the communication, such as a regulatory body. Fair comment applies when words are expressions of opinion on a matter of public interest. Journalists have an additional defence, responsible communication, relating to fair and responsible reports on issues of public interest. Other than truth, malice, or ill-will can defeat these defences.
Before or after trial, plaintiffs can seek injunctions to have defamatory material removed from publication or posting. Such injunctions can be quite broad, including providing that that the defendant cannot publish anything about the plaintiff by any means. Interlocutory injunctive relief for defamation, because of its interference with freedom of expression, is considered an extraordinary remedy and is only granted in the clearest of cases. Once the defendant has been found liable for defamation, injunctive relief is more easily obtained if the plaintiff can show the defendant will continue to publish defamatory statements or where there is a real possibility the plaintiff will not receive compensation.
The proliferation of electronic communication has introduced new issues into the law of defamation. One of the most important is the question of when Canadian courts can take jurisdiction over defamation claims where the defendant is located in another jurisdiction. Recent decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada have determined that it is sufficient that defamatory material is read or downloaded in Canada. There is no requirement that the communication be substantially published in Canada. Therefore, Canadian courts take a liberal approach to defamation jurisdiction. However, a plaintiff’s damages may be affected by the decision to commence an action in a jurisdiction where a relatively small number of people read or downloaded the publication.
Regarding the media, in most provinces, there are strict notice requirements and shorter limitation period when dealing with defamation actions against media defendants. There are still questions about the scope of the application of these statutory requirements to non-traditional media and electronic publications. Media law also refers to non-defamation related issues involving the media, such as the protection of sources and public access to and reporting on the court system, particularly publication bans. Publication bans create a conflict between freedom of expression and the right of an accused to a fair trial and are consequently the subject of much litigation in high profile cases.
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