Canada, like England, has attracted
“libel tourists” who want to take advantage
of our common law of defamation. Often,
the plaintiff’s odds of success in a Canadian court are much better than elsewhere, especially the United States. Such
claims raise conflict of laws problems.
Last April, the Supreme Court of
Canada considered these problems in
two Ontario libel cases. The higher-pro-file one, Breeden v. Black  S.C.J.
No. 19, involved Conrad Black’s libel
claims against directors and advisors of
his former company, Hollinger International. The Chicago-based company
had put on the Web various press
releases and corporate reports that concerned Black’s dealings with it and, he
said, contained libelous matter. (
According to media reports, a settlement
including these claims was reached last
Did the Ontario Superior Court of
Justice have jurisdiction simpliciter (i.e.
as a matter of law) over Black’s claims
against the individual defendants, all but
one of whom lived outside Canada?
According to the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence, that depended on whether
there was a “real and substantial connection” between the claims and Ontario.
Exactly how to decide the issue of jurisdiction simpliciter has been a contentious