section 611(1)

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

An accused charged with publishing a defamatory libel may plead that the published matter was true and for the public benefit.

SECTION WORDING

611(1) An accused who is charged with publishing a defamatory libel may plead that the defamatory matter published by him was true, and that it was for the public benefit that the matter should have been published in the manner in which and at the time when it was published.

EXPLANATION

Section 611(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada explains the defence that may be available to an accused charged with publishing a defamatory libel. Essentially, this provision permits the accused to plead that the defamatory matter published by them was true and that it was in the public interest to publish the information at that time and in that manner. To make use of this defence, the accused must be charged with publishing a defamatory libel - that is, a written or printed statement that a reasonable person would consider to be harmful to someone's reputation. The accused may then argue that even though the statement was defamatory, it was also true and that the public had a right to know the information that was contained in it. In deciding whether the defence is available in a particular case, the court will consider a number of factors, including the importance of the information that was published, the manner in which it was published, and the degree of harm that was caused to the reputation of the person who was the subject of the defamatory matter. Overall, the defence contained in section 611(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada is intended to strike a balance between freedom of expression and the protection of reputation. It allows for important information to be shared with the public, while also providing some level of protection to individuals whose reputations may be harmed by false or defamatory statements.

COMMENTARY

Section 611(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides a defence for an individual who is charged with publishing a defamatory libel. The defence is that the defamatory matter published by them was true and that it was for the public benefit that the matter should have been published in the manner in which and at the time when it was published. This defence is based on the principle that freedom of expression and the right to access information is a fundamental right in a free and democratic society. The defence recognizes that sometimes it is necessary to publish information that may be considered defamatory in order to inform the public about issues of public interest, government accountability, or to expose wrongdoing. However, this defence is not an absolute one. The accused must show that the defamatory matter published by them was true, and that the public benefit of the publication outweighed any harm caused to those who were defamed. The accused must also show that the matter was published in the manner and at the time when it was reasonable and necessary to do so. The purpose of this defence is to protect the individual's freedom of expression and the public's right to know, without allowing individuals to use it as an excuse to defame, harass, or bully others. The defence is only available if the publication was made in good faith and for a legitimate purpose. The defence may be raised in both criminal and civil proceedings. In criminal proceedings, the accused must prove the defence on a balance of probabilities. In civil proceedings, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, who must prove that the defamatory matter was false and that it caused harm to their reputation. This defence has been the subject of much debate and controversy. Some argue that it is necessary to protect freedom of expression and the public's right to know. Others argue that it allows individuals to defame others without consequence, as long as they can prove that the defamatory matter was true and for the public benefit. Ultimately, the application of this defence will depend on the specific circumstances of each case. Courts will balance the right to freedom of expression and the public's right to know against the harm caused to those who are defamed. The defence will only be available in situations where the publication was made in good faith and for a legitimate purpose.

STRATEGY

Section 611(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides a defence for an accused charged with publishing a defamatory libel. This defence is only available if the accused can prove that the defamatory matter they published was true and that it was in the public interest to have published it. In order to make use of this defence, a defendant must be careful to consider a number of strategies that will allow them to maximize their chances of success. One key strategy is to gather as much evidence as possible to support the claim that the defamatory matter was true. This could include witness statements, documents, photographs or other types of evidence that can be used to prove the accuracy of the allegations made. It is important to note that this evidence must be related specifically to the defamatory matter being alleged in the charge, rather than general evidence about the character or actions of the person who is the subject of the allegations. Another important consideration is the timing of the publication. If the accused can show that at the time of publication the matter was of public interest and that there was a real need for the information to be made public, this may be a strong argument in their favour. This means that it may be important to consider the timing of the publication in relation to other events that were happening at the time, and to gather evidence to support the claim that the matter was of public interest. It is also important to consider the audience for the publication. If the defendants can show that the publication was to a targeted audience of people with a legitimate interest in the subject matter of the publication, this may be a strong argument in their favour. Conversely, if the publication was overly sensationalized or poorly targeted, this may work against the defendant. Finally, it is important to consider the tone of the publication. If the defamatory matter was presented in a calm and measured way, with a focus on the facts and the public interest, this may help to convince the court that the matter was published in good faith. If, however, the publication was inflammatory or reckless, this could work against the defendant, regardless of the truth of the allegations. In terms of strategies that can be employed, one possibility is to work with a skilled and experienced defamation lawyer who can help to gather evidence, craft a strong legal argument and present the case in a compelling way in court. It may also be important to engage with the media and the public to help build support for the defendant's position, especially if the matter in question relates to a matter of significant public interest. Overall, Section 611(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides a powerful defence for those accused of publishing a defamatory libel, but it requires careful consideration of the evidence, the timing, the audience and the tone of the publication. With the right strategies in place, however, defendants can maximize their chances of success and demonstrate that their actions were motivated by a genuine concern for the public interest.