Saturday, September 19, 2015

Elements of a Defamation Case

Frank v. Legate, 2015 ONCA 631:

[39]       In Grant v. Torstar Corp., 2009 SCC 61, [2009] 3 S.C.R. 640, at para. 28, the Supreme Court of Canada held that a plaintiff must prove the following three elements in a defamation action: 1) the defendant made a defamatory statement, in the sense that the impugned words would tend to lower the plaintiff's reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person; 2) the words in fact referred to the plaintiff; and 3) the words were communicated to at least one person other than the plaintiff. 

[40]       A reasonable person in this context is one who is reasonably thoughtful and informed, who would understand the difference between allegations and proof of guilt. Such a person would keep in mind that an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty: Guergis, at paras. 38 and 57; Miguna v. Toronto (City) Police Services Board, [2004] O.J. No. 2455 (S.C.), at paras. 4-6, aff'd [2005] O.J. No. 107 (C.A.). 

[41]       Courts will only grant a motion by a defendant to strike a pleading on the basis that the statement at issue is incapable of a defamatory meaning in the clearest of cases. If this standard is not met, determination of the issue will be left to the trier of fact at trial: Guergis, at para. 41.

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