July 14, 2017 – The Quebec Superior Court granted a permanent injunction and awarded damages in a first-time defamation based ruling in the province, against anonymous “John Doe” online posters. In its ruling, the court held that five individual online internet postings created by fictitious users were unlawful and defamed the reputation of lawyer Colin Singer, an immigration lawyer in Canada and Managing Partner of www.immigration.ca.
In some instances, the internet posters chose pseudonyms of Singer’s name to post fabricated, defamatory statements about his immigration practice. The court accepted submissions that the postings in question could not be admitted as legitimate criticisms or expressions of opinions made in good faith, and were beyond the limits of freedom of speech. The court also accepted the submission that the posts’ sole objective was to intentionally harm Singer’s reputation as well as his online personae, immigration.ca, and therefore did not consist of a case where the poster’s right to anonymous comment was worthy of protection. The court endorsed the established principle that a lawyer’s reputation is of paramount importance.
The court heard that since 1994, Mr. Singer conducts his law practice through immigration.ca, an established contributor of online written content on immigration matters in Canada, reaching a worldwide clientele.
The practice of issuing a permanent injunction against anonymous or “John Doe” defendants is controversial in many jurisdictions. A defendant whose name is unknown may be sued, under a fictitious name, in certain circumstances, with special permission of the court. The judgment condemned each defendant to pay $2,500 in damages.
“We are aware some competitors in the Canadian immigration industry are prepared to engage in unlawful activities to try and harm our success”, said Singer. “I am pleased that my reputation has been vindicated through this strong ruling” he said.
Click here, to read the full judgment.