Daniel W Burnett, K.C.
Over more than 25 years, Dan has become one of the most prominent lawyers in the country in the areas of freedom of expression and media law, and has been lead counsel on landmark Supreme Court of Canada cases. Dan also practices a wide variety of civil litigation, including estate litigation, negligent misstatement and injunctions.
Dan was winning counsel on Supreme Court of Canada cases reshaping defamation law and internet issues. He was honoured to be appointed amicus curiae by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 2012 case of A.B. v. Bragg. Many of his cases, from trial through appeals, involve defamation, open courts, privacy, freedom of information, intellectual property and internet issues, and he handles a wide variety of other civil litigation.
He teaches extensively, and has been recognized by the BC Civil Liberties Association and Freedom of Information and Privacy Associations for his volunteer counsel work on public interest cases. Dan is consistently selected by peers for inclusion in “The Best Lawyers in Canada” and LEXPERT for defamation and media law.
Dan is also an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia and past President of the Canadian Media Lawyers Association. In addition to his prominence in freedom of expression and media law, Dan maintains a wide practice as litigation counsel on important cases in other areas including estate law, contract litigation and negligent misstatement. In 2014, Dan was appointed a Queen’s Counsel (“Q.C.”).
- Called to the British Columbia Bar, 1988
- Bachelor of Laws, University of Victoria, 1986
- Bachelor of Arts, University of Victoria (Economics and Political Science), 1983
• Recognized as a leader in media and defamation law in Best Lawyers in Canada and LEXPERT every year since the inception of those publications
• Ranked “Benchmark Litigation Star” by Benchmark Canada, the Guide to Canada’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys
Radio-Television News Directors Association “Friend of the RTNDA” award
- Nazerali v. Mitchell, 2016 BCSC 810, acted for a plaintiff who was awarded one of the largest defamation awards in Canadian history against a US based internet smear site.
- Taseko Mines v. Western Canada Wilderness Committee, 2016 BCSC 109 – successfully defended Wilderness Committee in defamation action over environmental criticisms of an open pit mining proposal.
- Casses v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2015 BCSC 2150 – successfully defended CBC and its employees in a defamation action over a three part expose regarding a doctor.
- Fouad v. Wijayanayagam, 2015 BCCA 272 – successful appeal against breach of privacy judgment arising from doctor’s inquiry regarding another doctor’s credentials.
- Bragg Communications Inc., 2012 SCC 46, amicus curiae to the Supreme Court of Canada on the issue of whether a minor, seeking an order to obtain the identity of an anonymous poster of an allegedly defamatory Facebook profile, should be granted an anonymity order.
- Canwest Publishing Inc. v. Wilson, 2012 BCCA 181, on protection for confidential journalist sources under the Wigmore privilege.
- Crookes v. Newton (Supreme Court of Canada, 2011) lead counsel, acting pro bono, winning the Supreme Court’s first internet defamation case, holding that hyperlinking does not amount to publication for defamation purposes.
- WIC v. Simpson (trial, appeal and Supreme Court of Canada, 2008 SCC 40) lead counsel on a landmark defamation case before the Supreme Court of Canada, which successfully redefined the defence of fair comment in the context of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- Buell v. Unger, 2011 BCSC 351, estate law, successful summary trial on issue of alleged common law spouse entitlement under intestacy.
- Global BC v. British Columbia, 2010 BCCA 169 on entitlement to public and media access to a video exhibit at a murder trial.
- Griffin v. Sullivan, 2008 BCSC 827, obtaining significant damages and a broad injunction for the plaintiff who was subjected to a 4‑1/2 year campaign of internet defamation and harassment.
- Khan v. Interior Health Authority, 2008 BCSC 1637 awarding damages for negligent misstatement to a doctor recruited to a BC hospital without being told of a chance that his specialty area would be closed down.
- R. v. Pickton, 2006 BCSC 1829, 2007 BCSC 78 and other rulings on publication bans and open court issues.
- Hanisch v. Canada, trial and appeal, 2004 BCCA 539, in which the rescuer of a Parks Canada boat was falsely accused of retaining the vessel, arrested and taken 100 miles from his home in the Queen Charlotte Islands, ultimately winning compensation and punitive damages for false arrest, false imprisonment and defamation.
- Jack Webster Foundation, Trustee
- Civil Liberties Association, pro bono counsel on several cases, 2005‑2015.
- Jack Webster Foundation – Trustee since 2008.
- Civil Liberties Advisory Committee for Vancouver 2010 Olympics.
- C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association – Legislative Task Force member and pro bono counsel on several cases, 2003‑2011.
- Guest lecturer in media law at several Universities and Colleges