Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Big Guy with the Big Mouth!

Good Day Readers:

The terms defamation, libel and slander are used interchangeably but there are subtle differences.

Defamation: The written or spoken injury to a person or organization's reputation. It's an attack on the good reputation by slander or libel.

Libel: The written act of defamation, that is, defamation by writing such as in newspapers, letters and today online (FaceBook, blogs and yes even Twitter)

Slander: Verbal or spoken defamation.

Defamation, libel and slander laws are provincial responsibilities.

Mr. Dale has rejected Rob Ford's public apology on two counts:

(1) The Mayor offered no retraction about his conduct
(2) The apology was not unreserved, abject or complete

Where does it go from here?

Presumably to avert a lawsuit Rob Ford could issue a second, enhanced more complete public apology. Failing that, a statement of claim will be dropped on him by Danial Dale's lawyer(s). It will likely seek general damages, punitive damages, court costs on a solicitor-client basis (if the Mayor he pays Mr. Dale's legal fees), and a catch all category usually stated as, "..... and any other costs this honourable court may deem appropriate."

Rob Ford through his counsel will have (usually 30 days) to file a statement of defence or risk losing by default. Next will follow a series of Case Management Meetings/Pre-Trial Conferences (normally closed to the public) as both sides appear before a Judge to hammer out/wrangle over legal details to get the case trial ready.

Most defamation litigation is heard by Judge only, however, the defendant has the right to trial by judge and jury although this doesn't usually happen. At any time during the pre-trial process, should both sides agree the matter can be sent to Judicially Assisted Dispute Resolution (JADR) before another Judge with whom both parties agree. It's an attempt to avoid a costly, time consuming trial. Should this happen, look for an out of court confidential settlement voided if either party goes public.

According to media reports, should this matter go to trial Ms Iris Fischer is expected to represent Danial Dale.

Iris Fischer
Associate | Toronto
Toronto: 416-863-2408

Iris has a diversified practice in commercial litigation and arbitration, with experience that includes business disputes, mining, tax, and contract and negligence cases. She has a specialization in media law and also acts for clients on privacy and access to information, constitutional, and criminal and quasi-criminal matters.

In her media law practice, Iris regularly acts for media organizations, such as the Toronto Star, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Sing Tao Daily, Canada's leading Chinese language newspaper. She has extensive experience in defending libel claims and opposing publication bans and other restrictive orders relating to freedom of expression.

Iris has appeared as counsel at all levels of courts in Ontario, the Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court of Canada, as well as before administrative tribunals, arbitration panels and inquests.

During her final year of law school, Iris clerked for Chief Justice Michel Robert of the Quebec Court of Appeal.

  • Recently acted as co-counsel for the Toronto Star in one of the first trials in Ontario on the new libel defence of responsible communication in the public interest

  • Acted as lead counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, A.B. v. Bragg Communications, which involved social media, open courts and privacy rights

  • Acts for Cliffs Natural Resources in a range of disputes involving the mining industry

  • Acted for a major Canadian telecommunications company in an appeal from a commercial arbitration award

  • Acted as counsel in Grant v. Torstar (2009), in which the Supreme Court of Canada adopted a new defence to libel - responsible communication in the public interest

  • Acts for both media and commercial clients in a range of access to information matters
Dennis Morris, Rob Ford's lawyer is on the public record as saying he didn't write the apology. OMG, was it alter ego brother Doug?
Clare L. Pieuk
Video: Toronto Star reporter continues lawsuit despite Rob Ford apology

Allison, Jones/The Canadian Press
Tuesday, December 17, 2013

TORONTO – Rob Ford’s apology Tuesday for his televised comments about Daniel Dale failed to satisfy the Toronto Star reporter, who said he is going ahead with a defamation lawsuit against the Toronto mayor.
Ford read a statement in council saying he didn’t intend to suggest Dale is a pedophile during a televised interview with Conrad Black.

“I never called Mr. Dale a pedophile,” Ford said. “I have never used that word to describe Mr. Dale. I do not believe Mr. Dale is a pedophile nor did I intend to suggest that in my comments.”

Ford said he apologizes if his “actual words” have caused Dale any harm or personal offence. The mayor called it “unfortunate” that a word he never said has been “ascribed” to him by the media.

Those remarks come a week after Ford initially said he stood by every word of the interview.

Dale served Ford last week with a libel notice, demanding the mayor retract all of his false claims about what happened during an incident near Ford’s house in May 2012 and issue an “unreserved, abject, complete apology.”

Hours after Ford read his statement, Dale issued one of his own on Twitter, saying Ford’s apology didn’t even come close to what he sought.

“In his ‘apology,’ the mayor didn’t retract anything at all,” Dale wrote. “Instead, he blamed the media for its reasonable interpretation of his words.”

During the interview with Black, which aired Dec. 9 on VisionTV, Ford claimed that Dale was in his backyard, “taking pictures of little kids.”

“I don’t want to say that word, but you start thinking what this guy is all about,” Ford said.

Ford did not retract or apologize for the “categorically false, malicious, and in-itself-defamatory claim about me taking pictures of his young kids,” Dale wrote Tuesday.

“I didn’t ask for an ‘I apologize if,’ I asked for an ‘I apologize because I said false, damaging, and unfounded things, and here they are,’” Dale wrote.

“So: while I appreciate the mayor’s first step, no dad or teacher would accept that apology as sufficient. I would appreciate another try.”

Dale has said he was writing a story about a plot of public land adjacent to Ford’s house that the mayor wanted to buy, so he went to take a look when the mayor emerged from his home to confront him. The reporter has said that at no time was he on the mayor’s property nor did he take any pictures.

In relating the incident, Ford has often said Dale was in his backyard taking pictures.

On Tuesday, Ford said he never personally saw Dale peering over his fence or taking pictures, just that his neighbour told him he had seen someone doing that.

“Mr. Dale apparently denies that,” Ford said. “At that moment, I honestly believed, I honestly believed my neighbour’s account of the events. I had no idea at the time who the person was my neighbour told me who was leering over my fence.”


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