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Ontario|Personal Injury / Lawsuits
480 Libel and slander Libel and slander are untrue statements made by someone that are harmful to someone else's reputation. Libel refers to written statements and slander refers to oral statements. Under the law, both are grounds for a civil lawsuit.
Under four circumstances a harmful statement will not amount to libel or slander. First, the statement will not be libel or slander if it was only made to the person mentioned in the statement, and not to anyone else. Second, the statement will not be libel or slander if it is actually true, and the person making the statement makes the statement honestly and not maliciously. Third, the statement will not be libel or slander if it is protected by a type of privilege. For example, a statement will not be libel or slander if it was evidence in a trial. Also, in that situation any subsequent news reports of the statement are not libel or slander. And fourth, a statement will not be libel or slander if it was made by someone who had a moral duty to give their honest opinion about you. For example, a former employer who is called for a reference may not be successfully sued for libel or slander if they give their honest opinion about you.
If you are suing because your reputation was damaged due to a libelous statement, you do not have to prove that it caused you financial loss because the law presumes that you suffered a financial loss as a result of the loss of your reputation. However, you may have to prove actual financial loss if you are suing for slander. There are some limited circumstances when you do not have to prove financial loss in slander cases, including when the slanderous statement damaged your professional or business reputation.
If you are suing a newspaper, radio or television station, you must usually give them notice of your intention to sue within six weeks of learning of the incident, and start your lawsuit within three months. If you are suing someone other than a newspaper, radio or television station, you must normally start your lawsuit within two years.
The requirements of proving a libel or slander case are technical. For more information on pursuing a lawsuit for libel or slander, you should consult a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that you do not miss any important deadlines.