Ontario Civil

Conflict of Laws

Choice of law
Given strength of connections between company and Ontario, it could not be said company was engaged in “libel tourism”

Company was incorporated in US but sold cloud-based business automation software from offices around world, including Alberta office. Company had annual revenue of $5,160,400 in Canada and $3,783,474 in Ontario. Blogger wrote 18 blog posts or articles about company from home in Quebec and posted them on websites in San Francisco and Ireland and made them accessible through Twitter feeds. In 2015, blog was viewed over 105,000 times in over 160 jurisdictions, with 10,588 of viewers or readers located in Canada, presumably many of whom were in Ontario. Company brought action against blogger in Ontario alleging defamation. Blogger brought motion for order staying action. Motion dismissed. Given company’s business presence, customers and reputation in Ontario, test for jurisdiction was satisfied. Alleged tort was committed in Ontario. There was real, substantial connection between action and Ontario. There was no other forum in better position to dispose fairly and efficiently of litigation. Blogger failed to discharge burden of demonstrating that court should decline to exercise its jurisdiction and displace forum chosen by plaintiff. Suggestion that Quebec or US state where company did most of its business were more appropriate forums ignored fact that forum depended not on where blog was written but where it was read. Given strength of connections between company and Ontario, it could not be said company was engaged in “libel tourism.”

Sciquest Inc. v. Hansen (Mar. 14, 2016, Ont. S.C.J., Lederman J., CV-15-00535613) 265 A.C.W.S. (3d) 263.

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