Professional Profile

Julian H. Porter, Q.C. has practised litigation exclusively since his call to the bar and is recognized by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a specialist in civil litigation. He now practices as independent counsel. He has appeared before all levels of Court, in every kind of civil, commercial and criminal proceeding. He acts as defence counsel for professionals and he is fond of appearing before juries.

On February 9, 2015 he was the guest of honour at a luncheon given by the Judges of the Supreme Court of Canada who invited him to talk about his book and some of the paintings he wrote about, over lunch.

On June 23, 2015 the Law Society of Upper Canada conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa upon Mr. Porter.

In his career he has done some interesting things. He has examined a member of the Milosovic cabinet in Moscow. He acted with two counsel in Canada’s last murder trial which resulted in a hanging. He was sent to make the final appeal to the Minister of Justice – it failed. He acted in numerous obscenity cases; he persuaded a Court to take the ribbons off Michael Snow’s geese in the Eaton Centre; he persuaded a Court that his wife’s publishing house had not breached L. Ron Hubbard’s copyright; he defended an accused in the dredging case – a two year criminal jury trial. On behalf of Peter Newman and Jack McClelland, he convinced a Judge to allow felt pens to be used by the publisher to eliminate an offending sentence in a book rather than withdraw the publication.

His litigation experience includes: the Dubin Inquiry into Ben Johnson; the Winnipeg police inquiry; the Toronto Sun’s official secret prosecution in respect to Peter Worthington; the Walker Brothers v. CTV libel case which led to huge damages; the Patti Starr inquiry; the Reichmann family v. Toronto Life libel case; Karlheinz Schreiber v. Luc Lavoie; Tony Clement v. Dalton McGuinty; Lee Kuan Yew v. The Globe and Mail; Randolph Fiennes v. Allan Fotheringham; St. John Shipbuiliding Ltd. v. CTV and Eric Malling et al; Sullivan Entertainment Group v. Kate MacDonald Butler et al; defended the Ontario Provincial Police in a 7 week libel jury trial in Ottawa; received the maximum amount possible in a slander case before a jury pursuant to Rule 76. He successfully represented Maclean’s Magazine in highly publicized Human Rights prosecutions federally and in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario. In February 2014 he represented the accused in a rare criminal libel trial before a jury in St. John’s, Newfoundland (result not good!). At the end of November 2016, Mr. Porter concluded a five-day trial in Brampton representing a defendant who was alleged to have libelled the plaintiff while providing an employment reference. The defence was completely successful. The plaintiff’s appeal is pending. On November 29, 2017 he appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of, et al v. Goldhar. You can watch Mr. Porter make his argument in the last ten minutes of this link (starting at 1:57):–37202&date=2017-11-29&audio=n

He has defended many of Canada’s leading writers, publishers and magazines in libel matters and has acted for a large number of plaintiffs suing newspapers and television stations. Lexpert has, for a number of years, recognized him as “most frequently recommended” in the law of defamation and he has been selected by his peers to be included in the The Best Lawyers in Canada in the speciality of defamation and media law. He is currently engaged in a number of libel cases.

Julian Porter has conducted prosecutions, was counsel to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario for 20 years and he has appeared as counsel in numerous Royal Commissions. His law practice is described in the books In Court and Judges by Jack Batten and Ontario.

Mr. Porter is co-author of the law text entitled Canadian Libel Practice (Butterworths – 1986). He has lectured on many occasions to the Canadian Bar Association and the Law Societies of Upper Canada, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. His lecture on cross-examination is in video format for Canada Law Book. He has given a three-hour demonstration on cross-examination for Law Society lectures throughout Ontario. He occupied the Mulvain Chair of Advocacy, January 1992, University of Calgary. He is a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He was also appointed to the Ontario Judicial Council and the Committee that reviews judicial appointments to the Superior Court of Justice and in October, 2002 he was presented with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from Queen’s University. He was also appointed to the Interim Ad Hoc House of Commons Parliamentary Committee on the Appointment of Supreme Court Judges.

Julian Porter represented Canada at the UNESCO Copyright Convention in Paris (1971); was Secretary to the Canadian Conference of Arts and was Chairman of the Parcost Review Committee.

He was President of the Canadian National Exhibition in 1975 and 1976, and has served on the following boards: Harbourfront; Ontario Cancer Research Foundation; the Exhibition Stadium Corporation; the Hockey Hall of Fame; Key Publishers; and Gray Coach Lines. He was appointed to the Toronto Transit Commission in 1977 and served as Chairman from May 1979 to February 1987. He has served on the board of the Advocates’ Society and the Stratford Festival Foundation.

In 2013 Mr. Porter wrote a book, 149 Paintings You Really Need to See in Europe (So You Can Ignore the Others) which is now in its second printing. “Canada’s most famous libel lawyer is also a perfect guide to Europe’s museums.” is how Brian Bethune of Maclean’s described Mr. Porter in his review. In a Canadian Lawyer review by Yamri Taddese, Ian Binnie is quoted as saying: “An eclectic character” is how Binnie describes Porter. The retired judge went to Vienna with Porter as part of a tour organized by The Advocates’ Society. “We abandoned the official guides and went entirely with Julian, who is as eccentric as he is learned.” He says. “We had a tour like no other.” No doubt Porter is knowledgeable about European art, adds Binnie. “But he also has a Julian-esque perspective, which is actually in some cases as interesting as the painting itself.” The noted Canadian painter, Mary Pratt, said of Mr. Porter’s book, “I am loving it. Thanks for writing it.”

He is married to Anna Porter.

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