To Sue or Not to Sue for Defamation: How are Defamation Proceedings Different?

  • March 22, 2022
  • David Potts

In the United Kingdom Supreme Court case of Lachaux v Independent Print Ltd & Anor [2019] UKSC 27, Lord Sumption (with whom Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson, Lord Hodge and Lord Briggs agreed) stated as follows:

1. The tort of defamation is an ancient construct of the common law. It has accumulated, over the centuries, a number of formal rules with no analogue in other branches of the law of tort. Most of them originated well before freedom of expression acquired the prominent place in our jurisprudence that it enjoys today. (Emphasis added)

The courts in Ontario are littered with ill-conceived defamation actions and clients who wish they never heard of, let alone launched, a defamation action. I have spent over forty years trying to do reconstructive surgery on these ill-conceived defamation actions, usually with little success. I have now stopped acting for clients who have fired their lawyers as it is almost impossible to repair the shattered trust with the client. 

The next several articles in this series are going to examine the following question in some detail: Should you sue for defamation? This article is going to address the issue raised by Lord Sumption.