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Ontario Apology Act Passed

Ontario quietly passed Bill 108, the Apology Act, yesterday . . . although for some reason media coverage has been very limited and more detailed information doesn't seem to be available on the website of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney-General.

According to soonews.ca, "The legislation would allow an individual or organization to offer an apology as part of the dispute resolution process without concern over legal liability. The Apology Act provides that an apology made in relation to a civil matter does not constitute an admission of fault or liability and would not be admissible in a civil proceeding."

What coverage there is focuses on the impact of the Act in particular on medical and other professionals and how it may assist in dispute resolution.

The important question is whether the Act will encourage legal counsel in Ontario to be more flexible in their advice to companies on what they can and can't say when their products or services cause harm. Is it too much to hope that this may open the door for companies to consider more active reputation defense strategies -- starting with expressions of regret and compassion -- rather than relying only on legal-driven refusals to comment for fear of legal liability?

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