Massive Award in BC Defamation Suit

Reasons for judgment were released yesterday in Altaf v. Nazerali, 2016 BCSC 810 by Mr. Justice Affleck, a defamation case where the plaintiff alleged that the defendants published defamatory statements about him online.

The defendants Mitchell, Byrne and Deep Capture LLC were found to have defamed the plaintiff and ordered to pay over $1.2 Million dollars in damages.

The defamatory statements included allegations that the plaintiff was involved in international arms dealing, money laundering and stock fraud. The plaintiff denied all such allegations, and attempted to deal with the defendants directly to have the offending material removed from publication. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful and had to sue.

To establish defamation, the plaintiff had to prove 1) that the statements made were defamatory insofar as they lowered his reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person, 2) that the words referred to the plaintiff, and 3) were published, meaning they were communicated to at least one other person other than the plaintiff. Once those elements are proven, the onus shifted to the defendants to establish defenses to escape liability.

The defendants raised several defenses to the plaintiff’s action, including, among others, that the statements were true, and that they were subject to the fair comment exception.

Mr. Justice Affleck dismissed all such defenses and found some of the defendants liable as pleaded.

The case is a very interesting read and worth checking out.

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