Defamatory Libel Defences

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Sale of Books

Selling book containing defamatory libel
304. (1) No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he sells a book, magazine, pamphlet or other thing, other than a newspaper that contains defamatory matter, if, at the time of the sale, he does not know that it contains the defamatory matter.
Sale by servant
(2) Where a servant, in the course of his employment, sells a book, magazine, pamphlet or other thing, other than a newspaper, the employer shall be deemed not to publish any defamatory matter contained therein unless it is proved that the employer authorized the sale knowing that

(a) defamatory matter was contained therein; or
(b) defamatory matter was habitually contained therein, in the case of a periodical.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 268.


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Court Proceedings

Publishing proceedings of courts of justice
305. No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes defamatory matter

(a) in a proceeding held before or under the authority of a court exercising judicial authority; or
(b) in an inquiry made under the authority of an Act or by order of Her Majesty, or under the authority of a public department or a department of the government of a province.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 269.


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Parliamentary Business

Parliamentary papers
306. No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he

(a) publishes to the Senate or House of Commons or to the legislature of a province defamatory matter contained in a petition to the Senate or House of Commons or to the legislature of a province, as the case may be;
(b) publishes by order or under the authority of the Senate or House of Commons or of the legislature of a province a paper containing defamatory matter; or
(c) publishes, in good faith and without ill-will to the person defamed, an extract from or abstract of a petition or paper mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b).

R.S., c. C-34, s. 270.


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Fair reports of parliamentary or judicial proceedings
307. (1) No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes in good faith, for the information of the public, a fair report of the proceedings of the Senate or House of Commons or the legislature of a province, or a committee thereof, or of the public proceedings before a court exercising judicial authority, or publishes, in good faith, any fair comment on any such proceedings.
Divorce proceedings an exception
(2) This section does not apply to a person who publishes a report of evidence taken or offered in any proceeding before the Senate or House of Commons or any committee thereof, on a petition or bill relating to any matter of marriage or divorce, if the report is published without authority from or leave of the House in which the proceeding is held or is contrary to any rule, order or practice of that House.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 271.


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Fair Reporting

Fair report of public meeting
308. No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes in good faith, in a newspaper, a fair report of the proceedings of any public meeting if

(a) the meeting is lawfully convened for a lawful purpose and is open to the public;
(b) the report is fair and accurate;
(c) the publication of the matter complained of is for the public benefit; and
(d) he does not refuse to publish in a conspicuous place in the newspaper a reasonable explanation or contradiction by the person defamed in respect of the defamatory matter.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 272.


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Public Benefit

Public benefit
309. No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes defamatory matter that, on reasonable grounds, he believes is true, and that is relevant to any subject of public interest, the public discussion of which is for the public benefit.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 273.


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Fair Comment

Fair comment on public person or work of art
310. No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes fair comments

(a) on the public conduct of a person who takes part in public affairs; or
(b) on a published book or other literary production, or on any composition or work of art or performance publicly exhibited, or on any other communication made to the public on any subject, if the comments are confined to criticism thereof.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 274.


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Truth

When truth a defence
311. No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel where he proves that the publication of the defamatory matter in the manner in which it was published was for the public benefit at the time when it was published and that the matter itself was true.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 275.


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Necessity or Invitation

Publication invited or necessary
312. No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes defamatory matter

(a) on the invitation or challenge of the person in respect of whom it is published, or
(b) that it is necessary to publish in order to refute defamatory matter published in respect of him by another person,

if he believes that the defamatory matter is true and it is relevant to the invitation, challenge or necessary refutation, as the case may be, and does not in any respect exceed what is reasonably sufficient in the circumstances.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 276.


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Answer to Inquiries

Answer to inquiries
313. No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes, in answer to inquiries made to him, defamatory matter relating to a subject-matter in respect of which the person by whom or on whose behalf the inquiries are made has an interest in knowing the truth or who, on reasonable grounds, the person who publishes the defamatory matter believes has such an interest, if

(a) the matter is published, in good faith, for the purpose of giving information in answer to the inquiries;
(b) the person who publishes the defamatory matter believes that it is true;
(c) the defamatory matter is relevant to the inquiries; and
(d) the defamatory matter does not in any respect exceed what is reasonably sufficient in the circumstances.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 277.


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To Persons Interested

Giving information to person interested
314. No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes to another person defamatory matter for the purpose of giving information to that person with respect to a subject-matter in which the person to whom the information is given has, or is believed on reasonable grounds by the person who gives it to have, an interest in knowing the truth with respect to that subject-matter if

(a) the conduct of the person who gives the information is reasonable in the circumstances;
(b) the defamatory matter is relevant to the subject-matter; and
(c) the defamatory matter is true, or if it is not true, is made without ill-will toward the person who is defamed and is made in the belief, on reasonable grounds, that it is true.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 278.


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Good Faith Redress

Publication in good faith for redress of wrong
315. No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes defamatory matter in good faith for the purpose of seeking remedy or redress for a private or public wrong or grievance from a person who has, or who on reasonable grounds he believes has, the right or is under an obligation to remedy or redress the wrong or grievance, if

(a) he believes that the defamatory matter is true;
(b) the defamatory matter is relevant to the remedy or redress that is sought; and
(c) the defamatory matter does not in any respect exceed what is reasonably sufficient in the circumstances.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 279.


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Proof of Parliamentary Proceedings

Proving publication by order of legislature
316. (1) An accused who is alleged to have published a defamatory libel may, at any stage of the proceedings, adduce evidence to prove that the matter that is alleged to be defamatory was contained in a paper published by order or under the authority of the Senate or House of Commons or the legislature of a province.
Directing verdict
(2) Where at any stage in proceedings referred to in subsection (1) the court, judge, justice or provincial court judge is satisfied that the matter alleged to be defamatory was contained in a paper published by order or under the authority of the Senate or House of Commons or the legislature of a province, he shall direct a verdict of not guilty to be entered and shall discharge the accused.
Certificate of order
(3) For the purposes of this section, a certificate under the hand of the Speaker or clerk of the Senate or House of Commons or the legislature of a province to the effect that the matter that is alleged to be defamatory was contained in a paper published by order or under the authority of the Senate, House of Commons or the legislature of a province, as the case may be, is conclusive evidence thereof.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 316; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 203.


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