Law of Defamation (Ontario)

It is important to know and understand the law of defamation for the purposes of “social media”.

Defamation consists of two parts:

1) libel, and

2) slander.

One is verbal the other is written. An action in defamation does not require proof of actual damages. Substantial Judgments have been awarded without such proof.

A full and complete defence is, of course, the truth.

The intention of the person posting something of a derogatory nature on social media, like Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter is to cause some degree of havoc in a person’s business.

In many cases, the less said the better, but not so with “defamation”. The poster should also provide the facts, so that readers, friends and followers will have the “full story”. Without such, the allegation is simply defamatory. With the full facts, the public can draw their own conclusions. That’s protected freedom of speech.

The truth is a defence. So, provided that the facts can indeed be proven, then there is no defamation. Sure, it’s not good, but the individual cannot be successful in a lawsuit. On the other hand, if there are no facts provided, or the facts alleged are untrue, then the person or business who is the subject matter of the post can sue.

Best to be safe. Be careful, and always tell the truth!

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker

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