Dalhousie Law Journal


defamation, sue, public institution, Canada, common law, reputation, access to information


This article focuses on public institutions' ability to sue in defamation. It has a descriptive and a normative section. The descriptive part begins with an analysis of the relevant law in several common law jurisdictions. The state of Canadian law is then examined. The normative section considers which public institutions should be prohibited from suing in defamation and why Whereas some case law suggests that a prohibition on public institution defamation actions should be grounded in the public importance of speech about such institutions, this article takes the position that that is unprincipled. Instead, the focus is on factors such as the nature of an institution s reputation and the dangers of public institutions having an enforceable right to be well thought of. It is argued that a prohibition on a broad range of public institutions is justifiable, and the merits are considered of a rule that would deny standing to sue to all institutions subject to access to information law.

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