TORONTO, April 18, 2012 /CNW/ - Today the Supreme Court of Canada decided that Ontario has jurisdiction to hear six claims brought by Conrad Black in 2004 and 2005 against Richard Breeden and other former directors and officers of the company formerly known as Hollinger International Inc. That company, now known as Chicago Newspapers Liquidation Corporation, is in bankruptcy. Breeden and the other defendants had challenged the right of Black to bring his claims in Ontario on the basis that the claims had no real connection to Ontario, however, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that Ontario is the appropriate jurisdiction for the claims.
"Conrad Black is delighted about the decision of the Supreme Court today," said Lisa Munro, of Lerners LLP, co-counsel for Mr. Black along with Earl A. Cherniak, Q.C. "While this decision was pending, Mr. Black and the defendants to the defamation actions entered into a binding settlement agreement to resolve these actions. The settlement agreement remains subject to court approvals in Ontario and Delaware and, once approved, disposes of these actions, notwithstanding the Supreme Court's favourable decision today."
Black was formerly the Chairman of Hollinger International, a publicly traded company in the United States. He commenced six libel actions in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice between February, 2004 and March, 2005 against the ten appellants. He alleges that press releases and reports issued by the appellants and posted on the Hollinger International web site contain defamatory statements which were downloaded, read, and republished in Ontario.
The appellants brought a motion to have the six actions stayed on the basis that the Ontario Superior Court of Justice does not have jurisdiction over the actions and that Ontario is not the convenient forum, arguing that there were not sufficient connections between Ontario and the parties and underlying facts. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed the defendants' stay motion and the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed their appeal. Today the Supreme Court of Canada, agreeing with the Courts below, said, "The courts below agreed that the balance of fairness favours litigation in Ontario because it would be unfair to prevent Lord Black from suing in the community in which his reputation was established, whereas there would be no unfairness to the appellants if the actions were to proceed in Ontario because it would have been reasonably foreseeable to them that posting the impugned statements on the internet and targeting the Canadian media would cause damage to Lord Black's reputation in Ontario….the importance of permitting a plaintiff to sue for defamation in the locality in which he enjoys his reputation has long been recognized in Canadian defamation law."
Lerners LLP, one of Canada's largest litigation groups with over 100 lawyers, has offices in Toronto and London, Ontario. Lerners lawyers represent a wide range of individual and institutional clients, from victims of accidents to corporations embroiled in complex business disputes and appeals. Its lawyers, many of whom have been involved in landmark cases, practise in the following areas: Commercial Dispute Resolution, Medical Liability, Professional Defence, Insurance Law, Personal Injury Law, Public Law, Appeals, Tax and Business Law.
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Mary Ann Freedman
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