Defence of Innocent Dissemination at Common Law

AuthorDavid A. Potts
ProfessionBarrister, Bar of Ontario
 : Defence of Innocent
Dissemination at Common Law
e defence of in nocent dissemination is very important because of t he
pivotal role of intermediaries in cyberlibel. I n fact in many cases, aside from
the defence of no publication, the defence of innocent dissemination may be
the only defence available to intermediaries.
See Roger D. McConchie a nd David A. Potts, Canadian Libel and Slander
Actions (Toronto: Irwin Law, ), Chapter  at – .
A defendant may be able to rely on the common law defence of innocent
dissemination. In certain circumsta nces, a defendant will be held not to have
published the defamatory expression if:
. it was disseminated in the ordina ry course of business;
. the defendant was innocent of any knowledge of the libel contained in the
work the defendant disseminated;
. there was nothing in the work or the circu mstances under which it came
to the defendant or was disseminated by the defendant that ought to have
led the defendant to suppose that it contained a libel; and
. when the work was disseminated by the defendant, it was not by any neg-
ligence on the defendant’s par t that t he defendant did not know that it
contained the libel.
Vizetelly v. Mudie’s Select Library Limited , []  Q.B.  (C.A.), per Rom L.
Slack v. Ad-Rite Associa tes Ltd. (),  O.T.C. , per Fedak J. at paras. – (Gen.
Div.), citing Vizetelly v. Mudie’s Select Library Limited, []  Q.B.  (C.A.)

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