Defamation & Media

Defamation & Media

There is a fine line between protection of a reputation with freedom to voice ones opinions in print, broadcast and digital media channels. If someone has said (slander) or written/broadcast (libel) an opinion, our focus is to work quickly to minimize risk.  If the situation cannot be restored, we will work to start a lawsuit or an injunction to minimize harm.

If you received a complaint because of what you said or wrote we will provide you with prompt advice so that you may determine the strength of your defence such as truth or privilege.

What Is Defamation? What Is the Difference Between Libel and Slander?

Defamation is usually known as the action of making a false oral (slander) or written (libel) statement about another person to a third party, which includes posts online. Defamation refers to communication that damages a party’s reputation. Libel refers to statements made through a written context, such as online postings, newspaper articles, or recordings. Slander refers to statements that are made orally, such as on television or YouTube and as a result may be more difficult to prove if it is not recorded. 

The Superior Court of Canada has established the following legal test to prove a statement is defamatory: 

  1. that the communication lowered his or her reputation;
  2. that the communication referred to him or her; and, 
  3. that the communication was communicated to at least one other person. 

The legal test is often very easily met by the person who is claiming defamation by showing the statement or proving that the statement was made. More responsibility is placed on the individual who wrote or spoke about that individual to defend himself or herself with the following defences: 

  • Truth – the law assumes that the statement is false. The person who made the statement or spoke the words must prove that it is true. 
  • Fair Comment – a fair comment, also known as an option, is one that is of public interest and is based on known and provable facts. 
  • Privilege – there are two types of privilege defences, absolute and qualified privilege. Absolute privilege protects comments made by public officials in the pursuit of an investigation or the administration of justice. For example, an individual who is accused of murder cannot subsequently sue a witness who testifies against them for defamation. Qualified privilege occurs where the person making the statement has an obligation or duty to make the statement. For example, an employer who communicates with others to provide a reference for a former or current employee is protected by qualified privilege.  

If someone has made a defamatory statement against you, our following recommendations include, but are not limited to: 

  • save the social media posting, review, comment, article, etc.;
  • save all relevant emails and/or text messages with the person who made the statement(s); and
  • document the names and contact information of any third parties who are recipients of the statement(s).

How Walker Law Can Assist You

Most often, the main concern is to remove the statement as soon as possible. As mentioned, Walker Law staff work quickly and efficiently to ensure the statement is removed to minimize the damage. 

Another frequently sought remedy against someone who makes a defamatory statement is the payment of damages (monetary compensation paid for the harm done to your reputation or loss due to the defamation). Damages may be awarded if parties agree to a settlement which includes compensation or may be awarded in Court. 

Walker Law is located in the heart of the financial district in downtown Toronto. Our legal staff are ready to assist you. To speak with a trial lawyer, call us at 647-342-2334 or email us at info@tcwalkerlawyers.com for a consultation. 

The above is intended to be informational purposes only and not intended to be independent legal advice.

Are you looking for someone to help?

Let us help you! Contact us now!