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Defamatory Articles Published In Foreign Countries Can Be Actionable In Ontario If There Is Domestic Readership.

The Ontario Court of Appeal (ONCA), in Goldhar v. Haaretz.com, 2016 ONCA 515 recently confirmed that a libel suit over an article written and published in Israel could be heard in Ontario if some of the readership resided in the Province. Specifically, the ONCA concluded that there was reputational damage that had occurred in Ontario and there were judicial advantages to holding the trial domestically.

Goldhar motioned to hold the trial in Ontario as opposed to Israel as the issue at hand was whether or not an article published by Haaretz.com, an Israeli newspaper, caused reputational damage in Canada.

Haaretz argued that because the majority of the readership resided in Israel and less than 300 Canadians read the article, Israel would be a more appropriate jurisdiction. He also argued Israel would be a more appropriate forum as it would be more affordable and convenient for the parties and witnesses involved. Haaretz also expressed concern for “libel tourism.” The court dismissed these arguments.

The court applied the Van Breda test and determined that the existence of domestic readership meant that a tort had been committed in Ontario. The ONCA also held that because the plaintiff requested a jury trial, a mode not available in Israel, there was a significant procedural advantage to holding the trial in Ontario. This holding was supported by Goldhar’s intention to only claim defamation for damage caused in Canada.

Ultimately, the court allowed the trial to be held in Ontario.

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