The British Columbia Court of Appeal has recently affirmed the trial decision of Nesbitt v. Neufeld. In this case, the father used the internet and Facebok to publicly disparage his child’s mother. He was ordered to pay her $40,000 for defamation and invasion of privacy. The amount was made up of special legal costs in addition to damages. The decision is thought to be unique and there are not many of its kind. In fact, there does not appear to be any other social media defamation cases of family members in Canadian judgments.
The case is a warning to parents and ex-spouses who are tempted to publicly defame each other online. It is also a good lesson to family lawyers, who may want to emphasize to some clients that their comments on social networking sites are not private and can come back to them in court. Clients need to realize that anything they write in an email, post on facebook, or other social networking sites can later be used against them in litigation.