Saturday, November 3, 2018

Third Anniversary of the Protection of Public Participation Act (PPPA)

Protection of Public Participation Act, 2015

Ontario enacted the Protection of Public Participation Act on November 3rd 2015, which is aimed at stopping strategic lawsuits. It it will apply to lawsuits that began on or after December 1, 2014, when the legislation was introduced.

Strategic Lawsuits
A strategic lawsuit, commonly referred to as a SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation), is a tactic used by an individual or company to silence critics. Plaintiffs (the parties starting the lawsuit) use these lawsuits against weaker opponents in the hope that they will exhaust their finances and energy in defending themselves. As a result, other critics may refrain from speaking out for fear of the same retribution. Most strategic lawsuits are filed in court as claims of defamation (libel or slander), and are often dropped before proceeding to trial.

How the Protection of Public Participation Act Helps Ontarians

The Protection of Public Participation Act, 2015 helps protect the rights of Ontario residents to speak out on public issues without the fear of being faced with a strategic lawsuit by allowing the courts to use a fast-track process to identify and dismiss strategic lawsuits quickly.  
In addition, the act makes a number of improvements to the system to:
  • Protect individuals from being liable for defamation when their concerns are reported to the public through a third party--such as a blogger or a reporter
  • Make the adjudicative tribunal process less time consuming and costly by allowing parties to make written submissions about legal costs instead of having to argue about them in person.
The fast-track review process will allow a defendant to ask the courts to dismiss a case if it unnecessarily restricts their freedom of speech. In response, the courts will apply a test to identify whether a lawsuit is strategic or legitimate and determine whether or not it should be allowed to proceed. The test sets out three important questions:

  1. Is the lawsuit about a matter of public interest?
  2. Does the case of the plaintiff have substantial merit?
  3. Is the harm suffered, or likely to be suffered, by the plaintiff serious enough to justify stopping public expression?
Depending on the answers to these questions, the case may be dismissed with minimal time or expense to the parties while also saving valuable court and public resources.


"The Ontario law, enacted on November 3rd, 2015, creates a fast-track review that allows judges to identify and deal with SLAPPs expeditiously. It creates a procedure that attempts to balance a plaintiff’s right to bring a legal action with a defendant’s right to free expression.

A plaintiff must convince a court that the case has substantial merit and that the alleged harm caused by a defendant is, in the words of the act, “sufficiently serious that the public interest in permitting the proceeding to continue outweighs the public interest in protecting that expression.”
~ , December 2nd, 2015

Source: Corporate litigators get ready for Ontario’s new anti-SLAPP legislation /Financial Post/

"Canadian attorney Derek J. Bell thinks the PPPA (The Protection of Public Participation Act) could have some “real teeth.” If a defendant in a potential SLAPP suit invokes the PPPA, the court must hear the defendant’s motion within 60 days, during which time all other activity in the case is suspended. If the court rules that the case is a SLAPP suit, the defendants could get more than court costs on the motion, up to “full indemnity” on the entire SLAPP action itself, and potentially even require the initiator of the SLAPP suit to pay damages."
~ Rick Cohen , November 11th, 2015

Source: Canada Restricting SLAPP Suits but First in Personal Freedom: What’s the Connection? /NPQ/


>>> On December 22, 2009 the Supreme Court of Canada has released a very significant decision which affects all media news reporting companies and bloggers in Canada:

"Journalists and other media, including bloggers, will be protected from lawsuits if they diligently try to verify information on matters that are in the public interest." 

"These rulings have caused a fundamental change in Canada’s defamation law. While journalists, bloggers and others do not have free reign to impugn the reputations of others, the notions of free speech and freedom of expression have been broadened to ensure a more vigorous debate of political and other issues that are clearly important to society."

... for more information click HERE , HERE and/or HERE.


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