Applicability of Libel Notice

AuthorDavid A. Potts; Erin Stoik
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Applicability of Libel Notice
Ontario’s Libel and Slander Act, RSO 1990, c L.12, requires that notice be given
to a prospective defendant when a defamatory statement is published in a
newspaper or broadcast. The issue of notice requirements for publications in
social media is not yet settled in law and a plaintif‌f may respond to an anti-
SLAPP motion by alleging improper/no notice.
In this chapter we provide a brief overview of the notice requirement and
supporting caselaw before reviewing anti-SLAPP caselaw in which this issue
has arisen. Ultimately, anti-SLAPP motions are not the appropriate forum
to adjudicate the issue of whether notice is required, given the use of the
motion as a screening mechanism.
In the libel and slander statutes of many provinces, notice must be given
when the of‌fending statement is contained either in a newspaper or in a
broadcast. For example, section 5(1) of the Ontario Libel and Slander Act, RSO
1990, c L.12, which states:
5 (1) No action for libel in a newspaper or in a broadcast lies unless the plaintif‌f
has, within six weeks after the alleged libel has come to the plaintif‌f’s know-
ledge, given to the defendant notice in writing, specifying the matter com-
plained of, which shall be served in the same manner as a statement of claim
or by delivering it to a grown-up person at the chief oce of the defendant.
A libel notice must be served within three months of the matter. See s 6:
6 An action for a libel in a newspaper or in a broadcast shall be commenced
within three months after the libel has come to the knowledge of the person
defamed, but, where such an action is brought within that period, the action

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