Traverse Internet Law reports today that a self styled “free speech advocate” has been ordered to pay a Court judgment of $30,000, and the Ontario Court of Appeal added another $10,000 in legal costs in a decision confirming the award. The defendant had earlier reported that the Appeal Court judges were “snapping and confrontational” during his hearing earlier in the week. At trial, the Judge described the defendant’s defamatory attacks against the lawyer as a “steady diet of diatribe and insults, couched in half-truths and omissions…” and rejected a free speech and fair comment defense. The defendant posted on his “free speech” website that he is $17,500 behind in legal bills, and he is trying to raise money to pay his bills, the judgment, and/or appeal again to the Supreme Court. At Traverse Internet Law we are seeing a pronounced trend among the Courts to view claims of “free speech” with increasing skepticism in an apparent response to the realities of the impact of the veritable tidal wave of false and damaging online personal and business attacks.

Traverse Internet Law is involved extensively in the law of online defamation. This case serves as a “worst case scenario” warning for those who elect to use the web as a vehicle of attack. Sue Scheff and her small business obtained a jury award of over $6 Million in compensatory and $5 in punitive damages, and the District Court of Appeal for the State of Florida confirmed and upheld the jury award and judgment against a lady who had allegedly undertaken defamatory attacks against the plaintiff. Traverse Internet Law counsels parties on both sides of these types of disputes, and this is the largest judgment we have seen for online defamation.