Canadian Union of Postal Workers v Quebecor Media Inc 2015 ONSC 4511

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Note

This judgment sets out what constitutes proper notice and the ability of unions to sue for defamation.

Decision Summary

The defendants in this action, Quebecor et al, brought a motion under Rule 21.01(1)(a) of the Rules of Civil Procedure for the determination of 2 questions of law: firstly, whether the Plaintiff union complied with the notice requirements under section 5 of the Libel and Slander Act, R.S.O. 1990 c. L.12 prior to bringing the action, and secondly, whether, as an unincorporated association, a trade union has the legal capacity to sue in defamation.

On the issue of notice, Justice Pelletier finds at paras 38 and 39:

I would conclude therefore that while the notices identified the matter complained of, they did not sufficiently specify the matter complained of, as was clearly possible, particularly given the specificity of the statement of claim. The notices provided were more in the nature of the plaintiff’s interpretation of the words spoken and published than they were direct references to them.
I have determined therefore that the notices provided in the present matter did not meet the requirements of s. 5(1) of the Act. The Defendants’ motion on this issue is accordingly granted, and the action is therefore dismissed.

On the issue of whether a trade union has the capacity to sue in defamation, a personal action, Justice Pelletier finds that the issue of legal standing in an unincorporated association to sue in defamation is case specific and remains an unsettled and burgeoning area of the law. The motion is therefore dismissed on the second ground, the legal status of CUPW to sue in defamation in the circumstances of the present case.

References

Canadian Union of Postal Workers v Quebec Media Inc 2015 ONSC 4511

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