2017 July 7
John v Ballingall, 2017 ONCA 579
The Ontario Court of Appeal held that the six-week notice period and the three-month limitation period prescribed by ss. 5(1) and 6 of the Libel and Slander Act applied to an article that was written about the plaintiff and published on the Toronto Star website and in the print edition. Applying the Court of Appeal’s prior decision in Weiss v Sawyer, (2002) 61 O.R. (3d) 526, the Court of Appeal unanimously held that the definition of “newspaper” is not restricted to a physical paper. The Court also rejected the submission of the appellant/plaintiff that the notice and limitation periods do not start to run until the article is no longer on the Internet. “The appellant seeks to rely on an incorrect interpretation of the ‘multiple publication rule’. That concept provides that when an alleged libel is republished across different mediums, including the internet, those publications are treated as distinct libels. In Shtaif, the court rejected the notion that the limitation period for a suit about an online magazine article starts to run when the plaintiff becomes aware of the printed version. …This decision does not mean that each day of online publication grounds a new cause of action.” The Court went on to agree that any limitation period based on discoverability will run from the point where the internet defamation is discovered.