F. Remedies

Author:Philip H. Osborne
Profession:Faculty of Law. The University of Manitoba

Page 424

The primary remedy for defamation is an award of damages. Damages in defamation are "at large," meaning that once liability is established, damages are not restricted to the actual loss proved by the plaintiff. This is important because it may be difficult to prove the actual loss suffered as a result of a widely circulated defamatory statement. For example, it may be difficult for a business person who was wrongfully accused of fraudulent business practices to quantify precisely the financial loss suffered as a result of the loss of customers or business opportunities. The quantum of damages depends upon a variety of factors, including the nature and seriousness of the defamatory communication, the extent of publication and circulation of the defamatory material, the motivation and conduct of the defendant, the reputation of the plaintiff and whether or not the reputation was warranted, and the extent of the damage caused to the plaintiff. The conduct of the defendant may also warrant an award of aggravated damages or punitive damages.

Awards of damages for defamation can be high. In Hill v. Church of Scientology of Toronto,38the Supreme Court upheld an award of $1.6 million in compensatory, aggravated, and punitive damages in respect of...

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