Defamation

The law recognizes that every person has the right to protect their reputation from being damaged by false statements. A legal claim indicating that one has experienced a loss in reputation is an action in defamation. The scope of defamatory statements is broad. It is limited, however, to those comments which are false, unfair and are not subject to privilege. An example of a form of privileged communication is that which is made between a lawyer and his or her client.

There are two types of defamation: libel and slander. Libel consists of any written, printed, visible or audible matter recorded in a relatively permanent nature. Slander, on the other hand, is spoken words or other transitory forms of communication, such as gestures, signs or looks.

Proof that defamatory comments were actually made is an essential part a claim and can be difficult to establish. The Courts are very protective of rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. When damages are awarded for defamation, the amount can vary widely, depending on the seriousness of the statement and the extent to which a person is potentially affected by such statements. In some cases, the amount of damage which could be recovered in court will not justify the cost of legal proceedings. This is not the type of lawsuit to undertake without a very compelling reason to do so, and you should consult a lawyer to determine whether you have a case worth pursuing.