Cyber Libel Updates

Canadian Internet Defamation Rulings
This case is filed under Miscellaneous Cyber Libel Issues
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2020 March 2
West Edmonton Mall Property Inc. v. Proctor, 2020 ABQB 161

In order to protect the integrity of its process and prevent the defendant from bringing the administration of justice into disrepute, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench extended an earlier temporary injunction to prohibit the defendant from “publishing or posting any material or commentary concerning these proceedings as well as any material (including images) or commentary concerning any participant in these proceedings, including but not restricted to any counsel, Court staff or members of the judiciary, but excluding herself provided that any publication or posting about herself is not connected in any way to these proceedings or is not otherwise subject to any ongoing injunction.”

The judge also granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs after the rejecting “every conceivable defence” asserted by defendant including her “Donald Trump defence.”  In this connection, the defendant unsuccessfully argued that her online libels were “no more or no different than Donald Trump, President of the United States, does in his daily tweets and pronouncements.”   “[The defendant] seems to be arguing that there is a legal paradox at work here.  Since the President of the United States can do no wrong (she seems to argue), by emulating Donald Trump, [the defendant] is doing no wrong.” “The tweets and pronouncements of Donald Trump do not confer on [the defendant] a license to defame anyone, even in her emulation of him.”   “In Alberta, there is no ‘Donald Trump defence’ to a defamation action.”

This ruling also gives the plaintiffs leave to apply for a permanent injunction. “To be clear, the subject matter of that application is not whether there should be a permanent injunction but rather the extent of it.”  “[W]hat is a stake … is the extent to which [the defendant] should be allowed to access and use the internet, given her history of misuse.  Her chances for continuing to be allowed to use the internet will, in large part, depend on whether between now and the date of the upcoming application, she has complied with Court Orders and has demonstrated that she can use the internet responsibly.”