Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Non-suits in defamation actions

Seredy v. RBC Royal Bank of Canada, 2012 ONCA 377 is a defamation case dealing with non-suit.  It stands for the proposition that, when considering a non-suit, the court must take all the evidence led at trial in their most favourable sense to the plaintiff:



[6]          Before us, counsel for the bank conceded that there may well be circumstances in which the statements could imply that the appellant was seeking to obtain joint title to his mother’s funds by fraudulent means. He argued, however, that on the motion, the trial judge considered the utterances in the context of the surrounding circumstances and found that in those circumstances they were not capable of carrying a defamatory meaning.


[7]          If the trial judge assessed the surrounding circumstances, she stepped outside her role. It was for the jury to assess the evidence of the surrounding circumstances. The trial judge, on the motion, had to take all the evidence led at trial – including evidence of the surrounding circumstances – in their most favourable sense to the plaintiff. We note, however, that the trial judge did not allude to any surrounding circumstances to support her conclusion. Rather, she characterized her conclusion as on a question of law.


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