These two cases before the Supreme Court of Canada concerned the appropriate venue for defamation claims. The BCCLA was an intervener in both cases, and argued that the Court’s decision on jurisdiction needs to reflect a legal rule that protects freedom of expression, access to justice and democratic governance. Of particular concern to the BCCLA in these cases is the practice of “forum shopping” to take advantage of province-specific defamation laws.
Breeden v. Black concerns whether Mr. Black’s six libel cases against individuals associated with Hollinger International, the publishing empire he once presided over, can proceed. The defendants argue that Ontario has no jurisdiction over the cases because the defendants, almost all of whom are American, have no connection to Ontario. The allegedly defamatory statements were made in the U.S. but were accessed over the Internet in Canada and republished by Canadian news outlets.
Les éditions Écosociété Inc., et al. v. Banro Corporation concerns whether Banro Corporation, a global mining corporation, can sue the publishers and authors of an allegedly defamatory book in Ontario. The publishers and authors of the book argue that the case should be heard in Quebec. The book was published in Quebec, and was then released to bookstores in Quebec, Ontario and elsewhere in Canada.
The Supreme Court of Canada determined that Ontario was an appropriate venue for both lawsuits.
The BCCLA was represented by Robert Holmes, Q.C. of Holmes and King and Jason Gratl of Gratl & Company.