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Modern life

Editorial Obiter

Critics are always quick to point out that the law does not always evolve at the lightning-quick pace of science and technology. Take the term “fake news,” which is now embedded in our culture. 

In this issue of Law Times, there is a variety of stories that look at legal responses to technology.

One reports on a Toronto Small Claims Court ruling that led to $25,000 in damages being awarded to an Iranian LGBTQ activist based in Germany over defamatory posts online. 

Shadi Amin successfully brought the claim against Arsham Parsi over anonymous posts on multiple websites and letters sent to Amnesty International and the BBC. A judge agreed, finding Parsi was responsible for the anonymous posts on a balance of probabilities.

“An analysis of the damages occasioned by the extensive Internet defamation campaign must be evaluated in the context of the unique and somewhat insidious nature of Internet defamation and in light of the fact that the defamatory statements were instantly available to an unknown number of recipients,” said the ruling. 

“The defamatory statements accuse her of rape, money laundering and other serious charges. The defamatory statements were broadcast on the Internet and there has been a complete absence of any retraction or apology. The defendant appears to have been motivated by his anger at the plaintiff. For these reasons I believe the maximum amount is appropriate,” it added.

Another column by an Ottawa lawyer, Erin Lepine, looks at issues around the commercialization of surrogacy. Lepine has bravely voiced her opposition to a proposal to decriminalize payment for surrogacy, egg donation and sperm donation arrangements in Canada. Other features examine the provincial Long-Term Energy Plan and amendments proposed to British Columbia’s Environmental Management Act, stemming from a dispute over the proposed $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline extension.

Modern life, in all its expressions, means complex decision-making. 

Wise lawyers are needed now more than ever to guide their clients.

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