Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Does Rob Ford have a defence in his libel case? Maybe

The defence of qualified privilege holds that an otherwise defamatory communication can be justified if it is a “responsible communication on a matter of public interest” and: 1) the publication is on a matter of public interest; and 2) the publication was responsible, in that the defendant was diligent in trying to verify the allegations having regard to all the relevant circumstances. Where these two elements are present, a defence will be available, even if what is published is false (see Grant v. Torstar Corp., 2009 SCC 61).

Historically comments to media, or even in the presence of the media, are not granted such broad protection (see Jones v. Bennett [1969] S.C.R. 277) but it may be the Mayor of Toronto has a defence if he can show (and it is up to him to show) he fits within the broad definition of qualified privilege:

Story here

Mayor Rob Ford’s legal team argues that comments he made about corruption at city hall during the 2010 campaign were made in the public’s interest and that politicians must be allowed to speak freely on controversial issues.

This is the backbone of Ford’s defence in the $6 million libel case which began Tuesday. The suit was brought against Ford two years ago by restaurateur George Foulidis, whose family runs the Boardwalk Pub in the Beach.


The Rat said...

If nothing else we are getting a front row seat to the type of lawfare the left is willing to pursue after they lose. Rob Ford is attacked on multiple fronts, Borys Buy-a-vowel's vanity lawsuit to regain his seat, the Council of (left wing) Canadians using polling to try to undo elections, multiple environmental lawsuits against any project anywhere, it just never ends. And the lawyers get richer.

James C Morton said...

I just wish some rich politico would blow a few bucks on me! I'm stuck on legal aid murders in NU!!!

The Rat said...

But James, that's probably because you are a decent man. I don't agree with you all the time and maybe this is just your online persona (I'm a much different person "in person"), but you do come across as a rather reasonable and thoughtful human being. It's hard to believe you are a lawyer :-)