Buckle v. Caswell: Defamation on Blogs

A recent Canadian case offers another example of the legal dangers facing bloggers that post potentially defamatory statements.

In the case of Buckle v. Caswell (see: judgement), Wayne Buckle – a senior Crown prosecutor – (the “Plaintiff”), sued Gay Caswell – a former member of the Saskatchewan legislature – (the “Defendant”), for defamation in connection with a blog operated by the Defendant (the “Blog”). The Blog contains a statement which alleges that the Plaintiff is, among other things, a drug user that was disbarred for misappropriating funds (the “Statement”):

Mr. Buckle and his sister were busted for a grow operation. (They were charged with growing marijuana). Mr. Buckle lost his licence as a lawyer with the Sask. Law Association because he took money belonging to a client. He then headed the Legal Aid office but misused funds there. He is a well known and publicly known cocaine user. One person told me his personal experience when judge, lawyer (Buckle) and he, the accused had a court adjournment to toke-up (do marijuana) behind the La Ronge court house.

Justice A.R. Rothery concluded that the Plaintiff had proved the elements of defamation and awarded damages of $50,000 and an injunction requiring the Defendant to remove the Statement. The Defendant has publicly refused to remove the Statement.

The action was undefended, and the Defendant claims that she lacked the funds necessary to hire representation and was too ill to attend court. The Defendant has indicated that she will appeal the decision.