Torgerson et al v Nijem 2019 ONSC 3320

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Note

In this judgment, the ONSC struck out a claim in defamation for internet postings summarily (prior to defending) on a limitation. It relied on the 2017 ONCA case of John v Ballingall.

Decision Summary

This case raises the question of when the limitation period in s. 4 of the Limitations Act, 2002, S.O. 2002, c. 24, Sched. B, applies to defamation on the internet where the words complained of continue to be available to be downloaded and read indefinitely. The plaintiffs submit that as long as the defamatory words are available to be downloaded and read then a cause of action exists regardless of how long ago the words were posted and the plaintiff was aware of them.

Schabas J states:

In my view, that proposition is untenable. When a plaintiff becomes aware of a specific posting on a website, time begins to run for the purpose of applying limitation periods. To hold otherwise, and allow plaintiffs to wait indefinitely to sue simply because the libel remains available, would render limitations defences meaningless and have serious implications for freedom of expression.

References

Torgerson et al v Nijem 2019 ONSC 3320

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