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Canadian Internet Defamation Rulings
This case is filed under Limitations Defences
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2005 August 3
Carter v B.C. Federation of Foster Parents Association, 2005 BCCA 398, reversing in part 2004 BCSC 137

The British Columbia Court of Appeal unanimously rejected the “single publication rule” adopted by a number of American States, noting it had not been accepted by appellate courts in England and Australia. The Court described the single publication rule as one “which several communications to a third party of a defamatory statement are held to be only one publication and the limitation period begins to run from the date of the first such communication.” The Court of Appeal held that each publication would give rise to a fresh cause of action. The Court noted that “[i]n the instant case, the offending comment remained available on the internet because the defendant respondent did not take effective steps to have the offensive material removed in a timely way.

The Court of Appeal sustained the lower court’s ruling that making a reference in a printed newsletter to a website, where the defendant exercised no element of control over the website, did not constitute an actionable publication of defamatory material on the website. “Whether a different result should obtain concerning an internet website that makes reference to another website I would leave for that decision when that factual circumstance arises.”

See McConchie and Potts, Canadian Libel and Slander Actions, “Internet Libel,” pages 106-107.