January 3, 2020
Ayangma v The Saltwire Network Inc 2020 PECA 1
The fact that defamatory material remains online does not mean the limitation period starts anew each day. The court canvasses the law across Canada at paragraphs 56 to 68, explicitly rejecting last year’s decision in AARC v. CBC:
If this position was adopted it would mean that there would be a short limitation period for a comment published or broadcast in a newspaper, radio, t.v. (media), a longer one for the same comment published by means other than online and media, and still a longer one for the same comment online. A plaintiff could lie in wait for years, even decades, patiently waiting for the opportune time to attack an unsuspecting defendant for his online comment; a comment that could have been retracted or clarified by the defendant or an apology issued for the benefit of both plaintiff and defendant had the defendant only known that the plaintiff considered it defamatory.
The definition of “newspaper” in PEI’s Defamation Act is not restricted to the physical paper:
It would be rather absurd to hold in this case that Ayangma was barred by virtue of s.15 for an action on an article printed in a paper which landed on a person’s doorstep but that a different limitation period would apply to the same words published the same day on the online version of the newspaper. Such a determination would ignore the realities of modern life when newspapers are trending more and more towards online versions in order to stay alive.
The discoverability principle applies to the time limit for defamation under the Act; and per Crookes, a hyperlink does not republish the target article. This principle is not distinguished by the fact that the hyperlink is from one SaltWire employee’s article to another SaltWire employee’s article.