August 13, 2015
Goldhar v Haaretz.com et al 2015 ONSC 1128
The defendants are alleged to have published defamatory statements regarding the plaintiff in print and online. At least several people in Ontario, and an estimated 200-300 people in Canada, could have read those statements on the newspaper’s website.
The defendants brought a motion for an order to:
1) set aside service ex juris of the amended statement of claim in the action on the defendants;
2) stay the action on the basis that the court lacked jurisdiction simpliciter or, in the alternative, that this court is not the convenient forum for the action;
3) to stay the action on the basis that it is an abuse of process.
The billionaire plaintiff lives in Toronto and owns and operates the SmartCentres Inc. shopping centre business in Ontario. He also owns the Maccabi Tel Aviv Soccer Club and visits Israel about 5-6 times a year.
The defendant Haaretz Daily Newspapers Ltd. carries on business in Israel and publishes Israel’s oldest daily newspaper. It also publishes the newspaper online in both English and Hebrew. Both the reporter and editor named in the action reside in Israel.
The print version of the subject article was not available in Canada, however, it was published online in both English and Hebrew.
Justice Faieta cites Banro for the proposition that:
…the absence of the substantial publication of the defamatory material in Ontario was not viewed as rebutting the presumption that the chosen forum has a real and substantial connection with the subject matter of the ligitation. Specifically, in Banro the court found that even a small number of publications in the forum would be sufficient to ground the jurisdiction.
Faieta J. concludes that the defendants did not rebut the presumption of jurisdiction.
As to whether Israel would be a more appropriate forum for the action, Faieta J. relies on the factors set out by the SCC in Club Resorts Ltd. v. Van Breda and concludes:
An Israeli court is not a clearly more appropriate forum than Ontario for the trial of this defamation action.
Justice Faieta also found that the action is far from being an abuse of process.