Qualified Privilege

From Riverview Legal Services


Murphy v. Sutton Group, 2019 ONSC 2078 (CanLII)

[76] I also find that qualified privilege applies to Mr. Semen’s complaint to police. A complaint or communication of information to police is potentially subject to qualified privilege; Caron v A. (Litigation guardian of), 2015 BCCA 47 (CanLII) at para. 37. Qualified privilege protects a person seeking to report criminal activity by making a statement or complaint to police, who share a corresponding public interest to receive the information for investigative purposes; Gittens v. Brown, 2003 CanLII 40565 (ON SC) at para. 30. Qualified privilege serves to "rebut the inference, which normally arises from the publication of defamatory words, that they were spoken with malice. ... However, the privilege is not absolute and can be defeated if the dominant motive for publishing the statement is actual or express malice;" Hill v. Church of Scientology of Toronto, 1995 CanLII 59 (SCC), (1995) 2 S.C.R. 1130 (S.C.C.) at para. 144. A person who makes a complaint to police in good faith for their help is protected by a qualified privilege; Cook v. Milborne, 2018 ONSC 419 (CanLII) at paras 23 and 25, citing Cusson v. Quan, 2007 ONCA 771 (CanLII) at para 39; Kolosov v. Loews Companies, 2018 ONSC 7541 (CanLII) at para. 463.