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Simon Shields, LLB

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Torts - Defamation

Foulidis v. Ford (Ont CA, 2014)

In this Court of Appeal case the court took the oppourtunity to expound on basic principles of defamation as follows:
[34] I begin with some basic propositions.

[35] First, words are defamatory if their publication tends to lower a person in the estimation of right-thinking members of society, or exposes a person to hatred, contempt or ridicule: see Botiuk v. Toronto Free Press Publications Ltd., 1995 CanLII 60 (SCC), [1995] 3 S.C.R. 3, at para. 62.

[36] Second, whether words are defamatory will be assessed on the basis of their ordinary meaning, taking into account the surrounding circumstances, including the occasion of speaking and the relationship between the parties: see Raymond E. Brown, Brown on Defamation, 2d. ed., looseleaf (Toronto: Carswell, 2010), at para. 5.3(1)(a).

[37] Third, the decision of the fact finder as to whether impugned words have a defamatory meaning is entitled to substantial deference on appellate review: see Simao v. Hankook Ilbo et al., 2012 ONCA 175 (CanLII), 2012 ONCA 175, 348 D.L.R. (4th) 472, at para. 22.


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