The Judgment in Grant v. Torstar


The defence of Public Interest Responsible Communication was created on December 22, 2009 by the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of Grant v. Torstar Corp., 2009 SCC 61.

Full text

The full ruling in Grant v. Torstar is found at the Supreme Court's website: http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2009/2009scc61/2009scc61.html

The eight factors

To uphold a libel defence of "responsible communication", a Canadian court must be convinced of the public interest in the matter and the defendant publisher's "diligen[ce] in trying to verify the allegation, having regard to:
  • (a) the seriousness of the allegation;
  • (b) the public importance of the matter;
  • (c) the urgency of the matter;
  • (d) the status and reliability of the source;
  • (e) whether the plaintiff's side of the story was sought and accurately reported;
  • (f) whether the inclusion of the defamatory statement was justifiable;
  • (g) whether the defamatory statement’s public interest lay in the fact that it was made rather than its truth (“reportage”); and
  • (h) any other relevant circumstances."
(Grant v. Torstar Corp., 2009 SCC 61, para. 126B.)

Commentary

For commentary on the ruling, see:
- Jobb, Dean: "The responsible communication defence: What's in it for journalists?" J-Source.ca, December 23, 2009. http://www.j-source.ca/english_new/detail.php?id=4625
- Rosner, Cecil: "What exactly is responsible journalism?" J-Source.ca, December 30, 2009, http://www.j-source.ca/english_new/detail.php?id=4628
- Fairhurst, Ted: "'A huge sea change' in libel law" J-Source.ca, February 18, 2010. http://www.j-source.ca/english_new/detail.php?id=4805