Words can hurt. Especially when they are communicated as being knowingly false and damaging to your reputation and mental state. In Ontario, the Libel and Slander Act governs this area of law in addition to the common law. Libel is a defamatory statement that is published in writing or broadcast. Slander, on the other hand, is a defamatory statement made by way of spoken words.
With the increase use of social media and assistance of the internet, virtually anyone can distribute false information to a global audience. The test to determine whether a statement is defamatory is objective. This means that the courts view whether an average member of the public would hold the words as damaging to one’s reputation and well being. The courts do not have to consider the intention of the party who made the statement. Instead, the courts only consider the natural and ordinary meaning of the words used in the statement. This means that the actual intention of the party who made the defamatory statement does not have to be proven.
However, not every statement made is considered defamatory and there are defenses available should you have to respond to a defamation claim.