Richard C. Breeden, et al. v. Conrad Black, et al.

(Ontario) (Civil) (By Leave)




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Private international law - Courts - Jurisdiction - Choice of forum - Jurisdiction simpliciter - Forum conveniens - Real and substantial connection test - Torts - Libel and slander - Foreign defendants moving to stay actions for want of jurisdiction or on grounds of forum non conveniens - What is the proper test for assuming jurisdiction over transnational defamation cases and whether jurisdiction was properly assumed by the courts below in these actions - What is the proper approach to forum non conveniens in transnational defamation cases and whether it was properly applied by the court below in these actions.

Until January 2004, the respondent Conrad Black was the Chairman of Hollinger International, a publicly traded company in the United States. In 2003, a minority shareholder of Hollinger International questioned certain payments made to Mr. Black or to his companies. Following an investigation, a Special Committee concluded that Hollinger International had made unauthorized payments to Mr. Black. As a result, press releases and a report were issued and posted on the Internet. Mr. Black commenced six libel actions in the Ontario Superior Court between February 2004 and March 2005 against the ten appellants. In essence, Mr. Black alleges that the press releases and reports issued by the appellants contained defamatory statements that were downloaded, read and republished in Ontario. The appellants brought a motion to have the six actions stayed on grounds that the Ontario Superior Court does not have jurisdiction over the actions and that Ontario is not the convenient forum. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed the motion and the Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed the appeal.

Lower Court Rulings

March 31, 2009
Ontario Superior Court of Justice

04-CV-263720CM1, 04-CV-265298CM1, 04-CV-265299CM2, 04-CV-270773CM1, 04-CV-276761CM2, 05-CV-285535PD2
Motion to stay actions dismissed
August 13, 2010
Court of Appeal for Ontario

C50380, 2010 ONCA 547
Appeal dismissed