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How to calculate damages for slander/defamation of character?

Customer Question
how do you calculate damages...
how do you calculate damages for slander/defamation of character?

I have recently left a company in the travel industry (my choice) and negotiated a reasonable settlement after 12 years with this organization and over 23 years in the travel industry.

I have a recorded conversation between the person who has moved into my role and someone else that contains comments about my being fired, that I was engaging in activities that were against the company and more, none of which are true.

i have moved into a self-employed position and some of my dealings involve consultative work within the travel industry, as well as writing and speaking events that relate to the travel industry.

Obviously, this kind of talk would be extremely damaging to my business in terms of gaining assignments and consulting opportunities.

I would be interested in knowing how much I would sue for.

Looking forward to your response.

Cheryl Gregory
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Canada Law
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Answered in 3 minutes by:
11/2/2009
Lawyer: SoloLawyer,
 replied 8 years ago
SoloLawyer
Category: Canada Law
Satisfied Customers: 3,473
Verified
Hello -

Thank you for contacting JustAnswer.

There is no general answer for this type of question. The answer depends on the actual damage that the statement has caused you. Remember, to prove defamation, you have to prove:

1. Someone said something false about you.
2. The statement was communicated to a third party
3. The statement damaged your reputation in some way.

Defamation suits are difficult to win because it is often hard to gauge the damage the statement caused, if it caused any at all. If the statement has not actually caused you an y damage, you won't be able to recover. If it has, your first step will need to be to decide exactly how much damage this has caused, and use that as a starting point for your suit.

Hope this helps,

If my answer was helpful, please click ACCEPT so i may be compensated for my time. If you are not satisfied with the Answer, please feel free not to Accept, and post a follow up question so I may be able to clarify my Answer. My goal is to provide an outstanding Answer, so give me a chance.

Regards,

Michael
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Lawyer: SoloLawyer,
 replied 8 years ago
I'm sorry, your additional information did not come through until after I had submitted my Answer. This was posted in the American law section. I will try to get this transferred for you.

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
This is too generic an answer.

The comments by this person have just taken place, but the potential damage is what I am concerned with. There are 3 people mentioned on the call and they too are contacting people for legal advice on how to shut this down now before the damage occurs.

None of us what to experience financial or reputation damage - this guy is a problem and needs to be stopped before he can do any more damage.
Lawyer: Debra, Lawyer replied 8 years ago
Debra
Debra, Lawyer
Category: Canada Law
Satisfied Customers: 102,583
Experience: Lawyer
Verified
I am a Canada law expert and have just received your question.

Is the point actually that you want to know how to stop this person at this point rather than suing for damages down the road?
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
I reckon there is nothing to stop this fellow from saying whatever he wants to say unless there is such as thing as potential damage? if there is no way to approach the company, or him, personally, and hit them in the wallet, it will not stop until sufficient damage has been created.

If there is no legal path for us to take, what is stopping us from doing the same to him, now that we have his recording?
Lawyer: Debra, Lawyer replied 8 years ago
I want to first provide you with some background so you understand how the law with respect to defamation works in Canada.

Defamation is false communication about a person that tends to hurts the person's reputation.

The communication must be made to other people, not just to the person it's about. It can be spoken or written, or it can even be a gesture.

The law protects your reputation against defamation so, if someone defames you, you can sue the person for money to compensate you for your damage to your reputation.

 

But it's important to understand that the law doesn't protect you from a personal insult or a remark that injures only your pride; it protects reputation, not feelings.

 

For example, if someone says that you are a sleazy person then that's not damaging to your reputation as it's really just a mean insult. But if the person is saying that you are dishonest in business, you probably do have a good reason to sue.

 

Defamation can be a crime under the Criminal Code, but only rarely. You may also be able to sue for a violation of your privacy under the provincial Privacy Act. You may also have a complaint under your province's Human Right Protection Legislation.

 

In your case because the defamation is happening verbally the actual legal term for what you would sue for is "slander".

 

If you can prove that someone libeled you (that's when the defamation happens in written form) and that person does not have a good defence, then a court will presume that you suffered damages and award you money to compensate for your damaged reputation.

 

The law treats slander differently than libel: with slander, you have to prove you suffered damages, in the form of financial loss, to get compensation. It can be very difficult to prove this sort of financial loss. That's why most slander cases never go to court.

 

But in the following four examples, a slander lawsuit may succeed without you proving financial loss. Even though there's no permanent record of the slander, the law will presume damages, as if there were libel, if someone:

  • accuses you of a crime (unless they made the accusation to the police)
  • accuses you of having a contagious disease
  • makes negative remarks about you in your trade or business
  • accuses you of adultery

 

But going to Court is expensive and even if you win, you may not get as much as it costs you to sue. In deciding on assumed damages, the Court will consider your position in the community. For example, if you are a professional, damages may be higher.

 

Ultimately, therefore, in your case you may not have to prove damages. But, it's exceedingly expensive to sue in Canada and it's not likely that a lawyer would take your case on a contingency basis.

 

However, it's not the type of lawsuit this person or your former employer would likely want to defend either. For this reason it would make the most sense to retain a lawyer with a view to having that lawyer write a very strongly worded letter demanding that this person cease and desist and possibly even demanding a written apology that you can then use if necessary to undue damage caused by this slander.

 

What you can do to find a lawyer is one of the following things.

You can contact the Law Society and use their Lawyer Referral Service. You will be given the name of a lawyer and can consult with the lawyer and the first half hour will be free.

Or you can check on a site called lexpert. This is a legal directory of leading lawyers and law firms throughout Canada and is well-respected by the legal community.

Here's the link to their website:

http://www.lexpert.ca/Directory/DirectoryContent/FindLawyersOrFirm.aspx

 

I hope that helps as a starting point.


Debra
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