Negative Comments About You Or Your Business
People make statements about other people, companies, organization and groups all the time. Sometimes these statements include positive notions and, other times, negative ones. If a statement is abusive, false or misleading and causes damage, the statement is defamatory. This includes false online statements. The defamation lawyers at Kahane Law Office, located in both Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta assist with defamation issues across the province.
What Is Defamation?
In the Defamation Act (Alberta), Defamation is defined to be libel or slander. Defamation occurs when a person or company makes a statement to a third party (i.e. to someone other than who the statement is about) that includes false and / or damaging elements. No claim exists, in law, for a defamation lawyer to go after, if the party only makes a negative statement about you to you. In addition, the statement must impact the person, company, group or organization’s reputation, well-being or finances. In law, defamation lawyers deal with two types of defamatory issues. While categorized differently, the two draw similar consequences for those making the statements. For example, statement include any of the following:
- Radio broadcasts;
- Newspaper articles
- Spoken words;
- Television broadcasts;
- Speeches; and lastly
- Posts (Facebook, YouTube, etc).
Statements do not need to be made to a large audience. Even if a statement is made to one person, and they believe the statement to be true, then damage has occurred. However, we specifically help business owners with defamatory online reviews. There are two types of defamation: slander and libel.
When someone makes a defamatory statement with spoken words, defamation lawyers refer to this as slander.
Libel occurs when someone makes a defamatory statement in written or printed word. This includes published statements in newspaper, online posts or blogs, or even any document circulated to a third party.
Defamation Lawyers’ Test For Defamation
In Alberta, a statement is defamatory if it damages a person’s reputation. The test to determine if a reputation has been damaged is: did the statement lower the third party’s opinion of the individual or group?
Legally, defamation lawyers utilize an objective test to determine if defamation occurred. The plaintiff carried the burden of demonstrating that an “ordinary reasonable person”, hearing or reading the defamatory statement, would view the statement as being defamatory.
Suing For Defamation
If anyone makes a defamatory statement about you or your business, litigation offers you a form or recourse. Defamation lawyers represent people to sue for both the loss of money and harm to reputation. Loss of money occurs when the statement in question causes financial damages. For example, do not shop at Joe’s butcher shop because Joe puts his thumb on the scale and charges for more than he actually gives his customer. If proven that the statement was made, is untrue and that someone or people stopped shopping there due to the statement, then Joe may receive financial compensation form the person making the statement.
More challenge exists with defining the financial award to someone who’s reputation suffers as a result of a false statement. However, the courts attempt to establish an amount commiserate to the damages to the harm to reputation.
Cease And Desist Letters By Defamation Lawyers
The first step in any defamation is to send a cease and desist letter. Often these letters stop the repetition of the statements. Even if the statements stop, a claim for damages continues with regards to the prior statements.
Criminal Code Offence Of Defamatory Libel
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, a charge exists for Defamatory Libel. Someone convicted of this charge faces up to 5 years’ imprisonment if for Extortion by Libel. In addition, a person faces up to two years if a court convicts them of publishing defamatory libel.
Legal Defences To Defamation Claims
Even if sued or charged, defamation lawyers defend these claims with a variety of defences. Proper legal representation is key in these situations. For example, the following are types of defences:
Statement of Fact (AKA The Truth)
A statement of fact cannot be defamatory. If sued for defamation and you provide your defamation lawyer with evidence that the statement includes only factual components, then the statement lacks the grounds to be defamatory. For example, if you state that Joe stole something, and Joe in fact stole something, then even if the statement hurts his reputation, there should be no claim for damages awarded. The truth, as a defence, protects people making statements even if made with ill will or intended harm.
Defamation lawyers look at the truth compared to false statements and minor errors in fact. For example, if you state that someone stole $1,000,000 but they actually stole $950,000, no claim should be awarded against you.
Fair Comment / Opinion
A fair comment is similar to a statement of opinion. For example, if an art critic or restaurant reviewer gives a negative opinion of the art or restaurant, they are ok as long as they are not attempting to damage the artist’s or restaurant’s reputation on purpose. No rule exists that all statements must be positive. Opinions must, however, be fair.
If a party makes a negative false statement about someone to that person, no claim exists. However, if a third party overhears that conversation and damages occur, it is another matter. In this case, if the party making the statement took reasonable precaution for that statement not to be overheard, they may successfully defend an action.
Privilege (Absolute or Qualified)
The law protects some people, in some instances from this cause of action. Examples of Absolute Privilege include Members of the Canadian Parliament and provincial Legislatures, when making statements in the House Of Commons or Legislatures, have some protection under Canadian law. This is intended to allow for candid and free speech without fear of a lawsuit. Qualified Privilege includes individuals giving a reference for a former employee where the reference is honest but negative.
To preserve your right to make a claim for defamation, defamation lawyers must file a claim against the person making the statement within two years. It is important to speak to your defamation lawyer to see if any facts in your situation extend the time frame. Some situations allow the time frame’s extension to up to 10 years. This means that the passage of time provides a defence in some instances.
Defamation Lawyers In Calgary, Alberta
The defamation lawyers at Kahane Law Office in Calgary, Alberta act quickly for those who have suffered as a result of a statement made by another. We also help defend clients sued by people claiming to have suffered damages. If you need help, email or call today. The fastest way to reach us is via email. Email us directly here. Alternatively, please reach us by telephone at 780- 571-8463 in Edmonton and 403-225-8810 in Calgary, Alberta or, if you live out of town, toll-free at 1-877-225-8817.