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VANCOUVER A British Columbia bride has been ordered to pay more than $100,000 to a wedding photographer for unleashing an online torrent of defamatory comments that eventually destroyed the business. Supreme Court judgement says the attack on the integrity, ethics and reputation of Amara Wedding and its owner, Kitty Chan, was carried out by bride Emily Liao all her might. his ruling released Feb. 22, Justice Gordon Weatherill says Liao was to expose what she wrongly perceived as a corrupt business. He says Liao used the internet so her views would be widely read and cause much damage as possible to Chan reputation and business.
“(Liao,) and others who think it is acceptable to use the internet as a vehicle to vent their frustrations, must be given the message that there will be consequences if their publications are defamatory.” Justice Gordon Weatherill
case is an example of the dangers of using the internet to publish information without proper regard for its accuracy, he says.
The decision says Liao hired Chan to photograph her July 4, 2015, wedding and provide a package of services valued just over $6,000, but days before the nuptials, Liao disapproved of the pre wedding photos and stopped payment.
Chan staff completed the contract and withheld the photos and videos pending full payment, prompting Liao to begin a small claims action that ended in 2016 entirely in favour of the photographer.
Kevin Leung (left) and his wife, Kitty Chan, provided services at the July 2015 wedding of Emily Liao and Edward Chow. (Handout)
But before the small claims decision, Justice Gordon Weatherill says Liao maintained an nearly year long assault using Chinese and English language social media sites to accuse Chan and her business of everything from to consumers, to and testified in court that she posted the publications because she had been deceived and lied to and thought the contract had been breached. She claimed the defence of fair comment that her statements were a matter of public interest and based on fact.
But Weatherill says Liao failed to prove the statements were true. the evidence is overwhelming that none of them were true. However, she has failed to prove that her displeasure was justified.” Justice Gordon Weatherill
Weatherill awarded Chan $75,000 in general damages and found Liao or oppressive conduct merited aggravated damages of $15,000 and $25,000 in punitive damages for what he calls malice towards Chan.
and others who think it is acceptable to use the internet as a vehicle to vent their frustrations, must be given the message that there will be consequences if their publications are defamatory, Weatherill says.
The judge also noted Liao false allegations posted on Chinese language blogs, forums and social media sites were aimed specifically at causing harm to Chan reputation with her mainly Chinese clientele.
In awarding Chan the total of $115,000, Weatherill says he found there was coincidence between the start of Liao cyber tirade and the sudden evaporation of Chan previously healthy wedding business.
Amara Wedding laid off its employees and closed in January 2017. Chan continues to work with her husband Kevin Leung, assisting him in his role as a wedding officiant, although the judgement says the services offered by the couple are as extensive as Chan previous business.