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,” p. 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 and Alan McConchie stay 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.
While print media continues to evolve, online media are rapidly growing and changing the media landscape. Alan McConchie has become a leading expert in this area – a practice that requires constant attention to current trends in the online world.
As a result of over two decades of experience in defamation litigation and the provision of pre-publication advice, McConchie Law is positioned to provide cogent advice on extremely short notice. We are 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. McConchie Law 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.
Responding to attacks on reputation
While McConchie Law sees clients through all levels of the litigation process, we also devote a considerable deal of our practice to helping clients avoid adversarial court proceedings. Often McConchie Law 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. Roger and Alan McConchie offer their considerable experience to the formation of a client’s “crisis communications” team, including developing the tactics and strategy required to prevent or minimize injury to reputation.
McConchie Law will review client insurance policies to identify gaps or inadequacies in coverage.
Representation of domestic and foreign clients
McConchie Law 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. We also represent private companies and individuals who are either complainants or defendants in defamation matters.
Defending libel litigation
McConchie Law offers a wealth of experience defending libel claims from their inception to conclusion following appeal. We 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.
McConchie Law also represents libel plaintiffs who have included journalists and writers, but typically are private companies or individuals maligned by other private companies or individuals.
McConchie Law offers 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, Roger and Alan McConchie are very experienced in preparing and negotiating public apologies by potential defendants and obtaining pre-litigation settlement.