A case recently crossed our desks that I simply had to comment on. The Ontario Court of Appeal in the recent case of Rutman v. Rabinowitz set a very high watermark by awarding $700,000.00 in damages for Internet Defamation. The Defendants’ were found to have mounted a lengthy defamatory internet campaign against the plaintiff. Despite the fact that the plaintiff was not able to prove any specific injury to his reputation in the community, the court still hit the defendants on the head with one of the largest defamation awards ever granted.
The court felt that the very nature of internet defamation in which information is widely, instantly and permanently spread needed to attract the court’s heavy handed condemnation.
The case was also interesting in that one of the defendants did not actually partake in the defamation but was aware of it and did nothing to stop and indeed facilitated the process. The court held that one does not have to directly participate in making the defamatory statements to be found to be an equally liable party.
Interesting stuff as the internet, which has already revolutionized all of our lives is magnifying a very ancient area of law and the damages awarded under it.