Canadian owner of Israeli soccer club can't pursue online defamation case here

The Supreme Court of Canada says a Canadian businessman who claims he was defamed by an Israeli newspaper will have to pursue his libel case in Israel.

Top court overturned a ruling that said Mitchell Goldhar's lawsuit could proceed in Canada

Mitchell Goldhar, president of Maccabi Tel Aviv, is shown on the sidelines during a 2014 game at the St. Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, Switzerland. (Georgios Kefalas/EPA)

The Supreme Court of Canada says a Canadian businessman who claims he was defamed by an Israeli newspaper will have to pursue his libel case in Israel.

Mitchell Goldhar, who owns the Maccabi soccer team based in Tel Aviv, filed a defamation suit in 2011 against Israel's oldest newspaper, Haaretz, over an article about his management style and business practices.

The story appeared in print and on the newspaper's Hebrew and English-language websites.

Ontario courts ruled Goldhar's suit could proceed here, but in a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court disagreed, saying Israel is the proper forum.

The six judges in the majority agreed on the basic question, but differed on legal technicalities, offering four sets of reasons.

The dissenting justices said someone who is allegedly defamed online in his home province should be able to seek vindication there. It was estimated the article in question was viewed 200 to 300 times in Canada.

Goldhar, 55, developed commercial properties through SmartCentres, which he sold to Calloway REIT for over $1 billion in 2015. He has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

With files from CBC News