Defamation Awards attract Court Ordered Interest

In the recent case of Dhillon v. Jaffer, 2013 BCSC 1860, the Honourable Mr. Justice Melnick had an opportunity to review the case law on whether interest is recoverable on an award for damages in a defamation action. Justice Melnick stated: (at: para 27 and 28):

In defamation cases, where general damages have been awarded for injury to reputation, the courts have ordered interest on those general damages: e.g. Manno v. Henry, 2008 BCSC 738 (CanLII), 2008 BCSC 738; Wilson v Switlo, 2011 BCSC 1287 (CanLII), 2011 BCSC 1287. In Manno, Mr. Justice Grauer of this Court held at para. 213:

Although these damages are non-pecuniary in nature, their award nevertheless constitutes a pecuniary judgment within the meaning of s. 1(1) of the Court Order Interest Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 79, and they do not arise from personal injury or death within the meaning of s. 2(e) of that Act. Accordingly, the plaintiffs are entitled to interest from the date on which their cause of action arose to the date of this judgment.

This result would appear to me to reflect the view of the courts that injury to reputation is not to be equated with injury to one’s person in the sense that physical injury or emotional or mental injury are injury to one’s person.

Justice Melnick’s review serves as a reminder that in British Columbia a successful plaintiff in a defamation case will be entitled to court order interest under s. 1(1) of the Court Order Interest Act, from “the date on which the cause of action arose to the date of the order.” As many years will often pass between the time the defamatory comment was published to the time judgment is rendered, the application of interest to an award may prove quite significant.

To read the full Reasons for Judgement in Dhillon v. Jaffer, 2013 BCSC 1860 click here:

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