Anonymity in Defamation Cases

As many Slaw readers will already know from the extensive coverage this has received, the Ontario Divisional Court released an important ruling in Warman v. Wilkins-Fournier, a case in which Richard Warman is suing a number of persons for defamation. Warman had tried to get the court to compel disclosure from one of the defendants of information that would help identify various other defendants who had posted on anonymously on the internet message board run by the first defendant.

The court overturned a ruling by the trier of the motion to compel disclosure and sent the matter back for reconsideration on the point in the light of criteria clarified by the judgment.

The judgment is the subject of an excellent comment by Matthew Nied on his Defamation Law Blog. He offers this summary at one point:

Warman represents an important recognition that while internet users’ anonymity ought not to be protected absolutely, the mere commencement of a defamation action should not give rise to an automatic entitlement to information identifying a previously anonymous poster without a consideration of the interests of privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgment in the matter is available [PDF] on the site run by one of the defendants, Free Dominion. I note in passing that this site uses a Panamanian country code:

We have discussed anonymous online commenting on Slaw a number of times, most recently following a post by Omar Ha-Redeye.

Comments are closed.