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Defamation Actions Arising out of Academic Activities

CAUT Policy Statement

Academic freedom is essential to the fundamental purposes of post-secondary education institutions. It is essential that academic freedom not be restricted by the threat of legal action for defamation. Academic staff associations and post-secondary employers should promote a culture in which differences of opinion are debated and discussed without resort to litigation. Academic staff associations should ensure that rights to intramural and extramural speech are protected in academic freedom clauses of the collective agreement.

Academic staff associations and post-secondary employers should encourage and defend the free and frank expression of opinion by all academic staff in all academic activities including teaching, research, scholarly and creative works, collection and dissemination of information, peer review, post-secondary institution governance, and service to the institution or community.

The defence of academic freedom should not be borne by the individual academic staff. Where academic staff are accused of defamation in a legal proceeding, the institution should provide defence and legal representation.

Academic staff accused of or experiencing defamation in carrying out their academic activities should consult, in the first instance, with their academic staff association about their rights. Academic staff associations should seek legal counsel in relation to any defamation case brought against a member.

Approved by the CAUT Council, November 2005;
Editorial Revisions, March 2010;
Approved by the CAUT Council, November 2016;
Approved by the CAUT Council, April 2018;
Editorial Revisions, June 2022.