Where could I be sued? (internet law/juristdiciton)

I am a Canadian citizen who recently posted some writing on an American website that someone from Canadian business mentioned in the posting has suggested may be “slanderous”. I am currently a resident of Paris, France and I made the posting I did so from here.

So without considering the content of my writing, simply from a jurisdictional point of view, in which, if any, country could the Canadian company file a viable lawsuit against me?

Is your question if you could potentially be sued in any of those jurisdictions if they had a law that you broke, or is it in regard to a particular jurisdiction’s reach?

well for example, I did not upload any information to a canadian server nor did I send any information from inside canada, therefore, even though the company threatening to sue is in Canada I don’t think (but would like to know) they could attempt to file lawsuit against me in that country.

in other words, which, if any, courts might have jurisdiction to hear a civil action relating to this matter?

you are new to the internet aren’t you?

they are bluffing. don’t sweat it. making you sweat is their goal.

Ppppffft!!! I probably slandered half a dozen companies in the last half hour. Not sued once. Your mileage, however, may vary.

The person making that suggestion does not know the meaning of the word ‘slander’. It is not possible to slander someone over the internet. You can libel them, but not slander. Slander is a harmful statement in a transitory form, especially speech; libel is defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures. You did not slander them, no matter what you posted.


Something I learned the first time I received an international lawyergram:

Their lawyer might send you a letter politely recommending that you seek legal representation in Canada (or wherever they are). Don’t. They’re trying to get you to set foot on their turf.

I’ve been threatened before under Canadian libel law. Unless you wrote something truly brutal, you should probably just ignore it. Suing someone for libel here can get rather expensive, and it isn’t generally done unless the plaintiff is pretty sure they’ll win.

Of course, if you wrote that “Person X has sex with children while butchering kittens” then all bets are off…

Quick way to remember:
Slander = Spoken
Libel = Literature

I would not be too worried about ‘legal’ threats from someone who doesn’t understand something this basic.

First, the libel has to be false. The truth is a defense.
Second, generally, the falsity has to be deliberately untrue, or so obviously wrong that it was recklessly negligent to print it without checking its veracity.

Most libel contains enough truth that the suing party probably does not want the details examined under a microscope, as would happen in court.

Finally, there’s a “close enough” defense. The example I heard - Suing because you were called a horse thief doesn’t work if it turns out you in fact just stole the saddle and bridle…

Where can they sue you? Well, it depends. What’s the point of suing you in Canada, if the result is a judgement they can’t collect? Not sure if a judgement in Canada is recognized in France, or if they would have to sue you there. Of course, if you have significant assets in Canada, you may want to respond to the lawsuit. Plus, they would still have to serve you.

Lots of fun all around once lawyers are involved. Odds are they won’t be. The first thing any lawyer will tell a client is “even though you haven’t a hope in hell of winning, we’ll send a sharply worded letter and see if that makes them stop.”


Right, according to my understanding. As well, if someone published “Joe raped a girl in Maryland.”, but the actual truth was that Joe actually did rape a girl, but the rape occurred 10 meters across the state line in Pennsylvania, the gist of the statement is true, that Joe is a rapist. The slight irregularity doesn’t make it false for purposes of defamation law.

As I understood it, even a not quite as bad offense makes the lawsuit invalid; IANAL (Again) but if Joe simply beat the crap out of a girl, no rape, then Joe’s character is reprehensible enough that the lawsuit is a waste of time… since as I understood it, libel/slander as damage to your reputation is the gist of any such legal action. The alleged libel does not have to be spot on for all details, so it does not matter if the the location is wrong or something; it just has to impugn his character - unjustly, for him to succeed in a lawsuit. OTOH, if Joe was littering and jaywalking, that wouldn’t defend anyone accusing him of rape.

For example, when Rosie O’Donnell mentioned in passing that Trump had gone bankrupt, he went ballistic, called her a “degenerate” (PC code for “lesbians are pervs”), but did not sue. Why? Because technically, he had never gone bankrupt personally, but several ventures with his name and participation certainly had. Would a jury see the distinction, or simply say “you, schmoo - who cares if it was you or your companies?” If a businessman has a habit of being in ventures that go bankrupt, are you dragging his name down and ruining his reputation if you mistakenly say that he went bankrupt? Is it really damaging?