1. Hi Dave,

    So glad to learn you were able to find an exit from this. Until reading this post I was unaware of the potential for libel to impact on a blog owner. I will be saving this advice.

  2. Yes not lawyering up when you get legal papers in the mail, and not counter suing was a big deal. You could have sued them for pain, stress and suffering. Thank you for costing these religious nutters 50,000. Making the odds they will con someone again a little less when they go for another witch hunt.

  3. Randy

    I’m dismayed that my country thinks it can and should police the internet for comments made about Canadian residents, where such speech didn’t even happen in Canada. But I’m glad to read the final score.

  4. Orion Blastar

    Sad to hear you go through this. Good advice for bloggers. I had libel written about me but I am too poor to sue over it. Someone wrote nasty untrue things about me on a Google Group that someone abandoned.

    Ah well the religious nutters in this case had loads of cash and shark-like lawyers.

  5. Matt Steet

    Do you feel like you’re taking a risk by calling a cult a cult? I feel it could be difficult to defend your statement in court unless the cult is clearly outside the bounds of the main stream religions (since no one wants to think their religion is a cult).

  6. NuclearShadow

    If it was possible for you to actually lose in court based off of a anonymous comment of a person you had no connection to then what is stopping people and organizations from writing such about themselves and then suing? As a example let’s say you made a article about Scientology and how you disagree with some of their practices but remained completely civil through out. Someone from the Church of Scientology could be appointed to search for online criticisms and simply post a libel comment even in the most mildest of ways and have the Church of Scientology sue you. Did they really have a chance to win?

    This just seems like a awful way to be used to create massive censorship. Just imagine every website that has a commenting section or a open forum that could be effected. Also I totally hope the Church of Scientology doesn’t sue you for me making them as the hypothetical example above.

  7. Suddenly, I am very, very glad I live in a country with a Germanic Roman Law. I.e.: an area that takes 30 years longer to submit to international bogus law that renders any citizen into a world slave of every messed up law system.

  8. Neverknown A Name

    Another method of avoiding lawsuit: base your blog in the United States where this sort of speech is legally protected and the courts are on your side in libel cases by default.

    • TheMilkMan

      Good grief, I would hate to see what could happen if those religious cult Christians, Jews, and Mus… (don’t worry the big three have developed tough skin) here in the US figured out they could start suing the UK through Canada about what a kid in the US typed. I am very sorry this happened to you, the big bullies. You did right by not suing them back though, though you would have gained money, you would have lost more of your humanity, time, and energy.

    • tsotha

      I thought he said the blog was hosted in the US?

      In any event, yes, it’s harder to sue for libel in US courts. But if you don’t go to court or send a representative to defend yourself, the same thing will happen – the plaintiff will get a default judgement. You can’t just ignore this kind of stuff.

      Though I have to say I find it outrageous a citizen of the UK can be sued in Canada and be expected to pay. I hope the US has no such reciprocal agreement.

  9. Anonymous

    $50,000 sounds like a small price to pay to get to keep milking your flock. Also you shouldn’t you mention allowing anonymous commenters? Those guys are douche bags

  10. Joey H

    Thank you for sharing your experience; I am sorry you had to go through it. This is good information for “non-skeptics” as well.

  11. There’s one thing that I think is significant about your story, and the Canadian involvement in it- although this case might have gone before a Canadian court, what you faced was only a claim; there’s no reason to think that a Canadian judge was going to rule in favour of this group, and their $3 million claim is clearly absurd. Libel is about reputation, and unless the complainant could show that the comment in question was viewed by millions of people- step one- and led to monetary loss- step two- there’s no economic loss to compensate, which is the point of libel.

    The second strike would be the fact that the blog is based in England. Jurisdiction isn’t at all a settled issue around here. But I think a judge in either a Provincial or Federal court would have tossed this out immediately. Police British blogs? What a pandora’s box that would open.

    I suspect that this claim would have been quickly hustled out of court if it had come up as a total waste of the court’s time.

    Canadian courts are not in the habit of policing the internet across the globe.

  12. M. Noonan

    Had a similar situation on a blog I once maintained – wrote an article about a person and then someone who didn’t like that person chimed in on the comments to really rip the subject of the article. The subject of the article then jumped in and threatened to sue me if I didn’t take the comments down (no complaints about my article – likely because I only stuck to the facts and when offering an opinion clearly stated it to be just that – my opinion). I decided to delete all the comments from the article – it just wasn’t worth the grief (and as the article was about a man who was on disability and didn’t have to put in 40 hours a week at work, as I did, I figured he had the time to clog up the courts to his heart’s content, if he had a mind to do it – even if I won, it would have been a hassle) and, as in your case, the thing allegedly causing offense was something someone else wrote.

    I do believe we’re better protected here in the United States than anywhere else in the world on such matters – the First Amendment is pretty iron-clad and the courts, liberal and conservative, have tended to come down hard in broadly interpreting what is acceptable to publish. But legal harassment is still costly – as several American bloggers recently discovered when they wrote nothing but the truth about a one-time domestic terrorist-turned-liberal-activist. The bloggers won, but it cost them a lot of time and money.

    A gentle answer does turneth away wrath – but not when you’re dealing with lunatics and people who are stealing. Lunatics don’t like their crazy worldview disturbed while those who are stealing don’t want to get off the gravy train. The only thing I can think to defend against this is to make a loser-pays law – and a requirement that the person suing put up a bond in the amount of the likely legal defense costs of the suit.

  13. DaveM

    Did the Canadian court render a default judgment against you because there is no law guaranteeing freedom of speech in Canada?

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