Canadian Court Finds No Jurisdiction Over Washington Post in Online Libel Case
The Ontario Court of Appeal has held that jurisdiction in Ontario was improper over the Washington Post in a case where they were alleged to have defamed an Ontario resident prior to his moving to Ontario. Bangoura v. The Washington Post et al., Ont. Ct. App., No. C41379, 9/16/05. The court distinguished the case from the Australian case of Dow Jones & Co. v. Gutnick, 2002 H.C.A. 56 (Austl. 12/10/02), because in Gutnick, the plaintiff resided in Australia at the time the alleged defamation occurred whereas in Bangoura the plaintiff resided in Nairobi and only moved to Ontario three years after the allegedly defamatory articles were published.
Although this holding conforms with U.S. jurisdictional principles, it does not resolve whether the Canadian courts would view jurisdiction as appropriate in a case where the plaintiff does reside in Canada at the time of the defamation, a view that would be in line with Gutnick. If Canadian courts adopted that view, they would then be at odds with the prevailing view in the U.S., which holds that online defamation does only supports jurisdiction over defendants in the jurisdictions where the target audiences for the defendant’s websites are located rather than the jurisdictions where the plaintiffs reside. See, e.g. Young v. New Haven Advocate, 315 F.3d 256 (4th Cir. 2002).
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