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1999 June 29
Direct Energy Marketing Ltd. v Hillson, [1999] A.J. No. 695, (1999) 34 C.P.C. (4th) 200 (QB)

Nature of Internet Publication:  Website posting

Other forms of expression also involved?  Yes, hard copy

Canadian court has jurisdiction simpliciter?  Admitted

Canadian court should decline jurisdiction?   No

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench dismissed an application by the defendant to have the Court decline jurisdiction.

The plaintiff Alberta company had filed a defamation action in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench against a member of the Saskatchewan Legislature over allegedly defamatory allegations.  The defendant’s statements were made in a hearing of the Saskatchewan Legislature’s Crown Corporations Committee and repeated immediately afterwards to newspaper reporters outside the hearing.

The plaintiff alleged that the defamatory words were published in Alberta because several copies of The Saskatoon Star Phoenix newspaper, which carried the remarks of the defendant Hillson, were sold in Calgary from a news outlet and because the words were also published on the Internet websites of The Regina Leader Post and The Saskatoon Star Phoenix (located in Saskatchewan.).

On a motion by the defence to dismiss the lawsuit, the plaintiff and the defendant agreed that the Internet articles on the Saskatchewan websites amounted to publication within Alberta.  This agreement was based on the fact that the plaintiff’s president accessed and viewed, using his computer in Alberta, the defamatory articles on the Saskatchewan websites maintained by the two newspapers.  [There was apparently no evidence on the motion that anyone else in Alberta had done so.]

On the question of forum conveniens, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench held that the defamation action should be permitted to proceed in Alberta despite a parallel action by a related party in another jurisdiction. 

While the court held that the plaintiff did not have an absolute right to sue in Alberta simply because the statements were published there, the plaintiff’s principal place of business, its identity and its reputation were all located primarily in the province, as was most of the relevant evidence. 

In addition, there was a juridical advantage to the plaintiff since one of the defences advanced would not apply in Alberta.  Therefore the court rejected the Saskatchewan-based defendant’s motion to dismiss.  

See McConchie and Potts, Canadian Libel and Slander Actions, “Forum Non Conveniens,” page 153

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