Legal Defenses in Defamation Cases

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression", but this right is not absolute. Defamation law is a balancing act between freedom of expression and restitution for individuals harmed thereby. There are a number of legal defenses against defamation:

  • True Statement

  • Absolute Privilege

  • Qualified Privilege

  • Fair Comment

  • Responsible Communication

Click here to learn more about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Although courts will very occasionally issue an injunction to stop defamation that has not yet occurred, almost all defamation cases involve one person suing another for damages from defamatory statements that have already been made.

How to Defend Against A Claim of Defamation?

There are a number of legal defenses against defamation:​

  1. You can claim that the statement was true; a true statement cannot be defamatory.

  2. You can claim “absolute privilege,” which means that the communication was made in a venue where people ought to have absolute privilege to speak freely; this includes Parliament debate or giving evidence in a trial.

  3. You can claim “qualified privilege,” which means that the communication was given in a non-malicious and well-intentioned context and therefore ought to be excused: for example, giving an honest but negative reference to a former employee in the form of Record of Employment (ROE) or in a termination letter.

  4. You can claim “fair comment,” which means that your statement was a non-malicious opinion about a matter of public interest: for example, an editorial in a newspaper about a politician or a public figure.

  5. You can claim “responsible communication on matters of public importance,” which allows journalists to report false allegations if the news is urgent and of public importance, and if the journalist made an effort to verify the information. Even if the statement is false, the public has an interest in this type of discussion being legally permissible.

In Ontario, legislation on defamation is found in the Libel and Slander Act. Click here to learn more about Defamation. Click here to learn about Libel and Slander Act.

A Defamation suite is extremely complicated and is highly technical. If you are a victim of a slander or a libel, you are advised to seek legal advice immediately before the matter is statutory barred from commencing. A defamation lawyer can help. Call us now at 647-849-6582 or Contact Us Now for Immediate Assistance.

Defamation FAQs:

Defamation FAQs
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