Expression which tends to lower a person's reputation in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally, or to expose a person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, is defamatory. Expression which would cause a person to be shunned or avoided is also defamatory.
McConchie and Potts, "Canadian Libel and Slander Actions",
Chapter Fifteen, “Defamatory Meaning,” at page 289
Defamation law engages two basic values in Canadian democracy - protection of reputation and freedom of expression. The line between defensible and indefensible expression is often difficult to discern. There are many traps for the unwary in this esoteric area of the law.
Experience and Legal Services
Roger D. McConchie stays current on a daily basis with developments in defamation case law and amendments to the defamation statutes and other relevant legislation of the common law provinces and the three northern territories of Canada. This ensures that clients receive appropriate and timely advice about their rights and liabilities.
Roger D. McConchie has a working familiarity with the defamation law of Quebec and of key foreign jurisdictions and knows when to put clients in touch with experienced Quebec or Foreign legal counsel known personally to him. His interest in keeping close tabs on Quebec and foreign law is driven by the implications for clients of the emerging global economy and the increased use of the Internet as a medium of communication.
Over two decades of pre-publication advice
As a result of over two decades of experience in the conduct of defamation litigation and the provision of pre-publication advice, Roger D. McConchie is positioned to provide cogent advice on extremely short notice. He is accustomed to being consulted just before client deadlines and to providing pre-publication advice not only to media clients but to corporations and others who are concerned about their potential liability in defamation for communications which take place in a business environment.
Responding to attacks on reputation
Often Roger D. McConchie is called upon to work closely with a referring law firm, corporate counsel or a client's public relations advisor to develop an effective response to an existing or threatened attack on business or individual reputation by competitors. He has experience assisting in the formation of a client's "crisis communications" team and in developing the tactics and strategy required to prevent or minimize injury to reputation. The appropriate strategy often will not require adversarial court proceedings.
Advice on eve of deadlines
Roger D. McConchie is also routinely asked to quickly scan proposed press releases, newsletters, information circulars or other documents reflecting adversely on another company or individual and to suggest modification to the text of such communications to minimize the client's potential defamation exposure.
As regards insurance, Roger D. McConchie will review client insurance policies to identify gaps or inadequacies in coverage.
Representation of domestic and foreign clients
Roger D. McConchie has advised and represented national and numerous local news media outlets, as well as web-based businesses and he has acted as a consultant to other law firms. He also represents private companies and individuals who are either complainants or defendants in defamation matters.
Roger D. McConchie has advised foreign news media or other Internet publishers who are named as defendants in Canadian libel lawsuits over their publications on the World Wide Web. He can assist clients to develop a libel threat assessment arising from their activities in the global economy. This may be coupled with formulating a proactive media relations strategy for corporate clients to facilitate a quick and effective response if controversies arise.
Defending libel litigation
Roger D. McConchie has a wealth of experience defending libel claims from their inception to conclusion following appeal. He will draft the initial client response to the plaintiff's complaint, give preliminary advice concerning liability and damages, advise on the desirability of a retraction and apology, negotiate early settlement if appropriate and possible, draft thorough defence pleadings, ensure the effective conduct of discovery procedures, and act as trial and appellate counsel.
Roger D. McConchie also has experience representing libel plaintiffs who have included journalists and writers but typically are private companies or individuals maligned by other private companies or individuals:
Roger D. McConchie has experience preparing libel notices to potential defendants, evaluating potential claims and defences, advising on the likelihood of success and the probable range of damages, recommending the appropriate response to defamatory expression, and assisting the client in shaping non-litigation remedies if the matter is not appropriate for court. For example, He is very experienced in preparing and negotiating public apologies by potential defendants and obtaining pre-litigation settlement.