Mainstream Canada v. Staniford 2013 BCCA 341

The appellant sought general and punitive damages for allegedly defamatory comments made by the respondent in various publications, as well as a permanent injunction restraining him from publishing similar words and images in the future. The trial judge found the defence of fair comment applied to the defamatory comments and dismissed the action. In holding that the defence applied, the judge found that a determined reader could have located the facts upon which the comments were based.

The appeal is allowed. The trial judge erred in finding the test for the defence of fair comment was satisfied. The defamatory publications did not identify by a clear reference the facts upon which the comments were based that were contained in other documents. The trial judge’s order dismissing the appellant’s claim is set aside, and the permanent injunction is granted. As it is in the interests of justice for this Court to assess damages rather than order a new trial, the appellant is awarded general damages of $25,000 and punitive damages of $50,000. The respondent is punished for his misconduct during the trial by awarding the appellant special costs of the action.

2014-02-13 The application for leave to appeal from the judgment of the Court of Appeal for British Columbia (Vancouver), Number CA040316, 2013 BCCA 341, dated July 22, 2013, is dismissed with costs.