Reference to the Plaintiff

AuthorDavid A. Potts
ProfessionBarrister, Bar of Ontario
 : Reference to the Plainti
A. introduCtion
It is an essential element of a cause of action for defa mation that the words
complained of should be published “of the plainti .” If the words are not so
published, a plainti c annot have any right to ask that the defendant should
be held responsible to him.
Knuper v. London Expre ss Newspaper Ltd., []  AC  at  cited in Roger D.
McConchie and David A. Pot ts, Canadian Libel and Sland er Actions (Toronto:
Irwin Law, ) at 
Bai v. Sing Tao Daily Ltd., [] O.J. No.  at para.  (C.A.), McMurtr y C.J.O.,
leave to appeal to S.C.C. den ied, [] S.C.C.A. No. 
Butler v. Southam Inc. (),  N.S.R. (d)  at para.  (C.A.), Cromwell J.A.
Grant v. Cormier-Grant (),  O.R. (d)  at para.  (C.A.), Borins J.A .
Booth v. British Columbia Televi sion Broadcasting System (),  D.L.R. (d) 
at  (B.C.C.A.), Lambert J.A .
Arnott v. College of Physicia ns and Surgeons of Saskatche wan, [] S.C.R.  at
, Kellock J.
b. A two-PArt teSt
To establish t his element of the cause of action, the plainti must satisfy a
two-part test as stated in Knuper v. London Express Newspaper Ltd., [] 
A.C.  at , by Viscount Simon.
. As a question of law, can the expression be regarded as capable referring
to the plainti ?
. As a question of fact, does the article i n fact lead reasonable people who
know that plainti to the conclusion that it does refer to him?

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