Book Reviews, the Common Law Tort of Defamation, and the Suppression of Scholarly Debate

German Law Journal, Vol. 11, No. 6, pp. 656-670, 2010

15 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2010  

Kate Sutherland

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: July 8, 2010

Abstract

Professor Joseph Weiler will soon stand trial for criminal libel in France for refusing to remove a book review from a website associated with an academic journal for which he serves as editor. His case has disturbing implications for all those who write, edit, and publish critical scholarly work. In this article, I explore those implications for Canadian scholars at home and as members of a global scholarly community. I assess the likelihood of success of a similar complaint under Canadian defamation law, and I consider the impact of libel chill and libel tourism. I conclude that although the defendant in such a case would have a good chance of prevailing under Canadian law through the defense of fair comment, a threat to academic freedom remains that requires action on the part of individuals and institutions committed to its preservation and enhancement.

Keywords: Criminal Libel, Publish, Critical Scholarly Work, Canada, Defamation Law, Libel Chill, Libel Tourism, Fair Comment, Academic Freedom

JEL Classification: K10, K13, K39

Suggested Citation

Sutherland, Kate, Book Reviews, the Common Law Tort of Defamation, and the Suppression of Scholarly Debate (July 8, 2010). German Law Journal, Vol. 11, No. 6, pp. 656-670, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1636306

Kate Sutherland (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

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