Alberta Court awards damages in case where a defendant distributed private images online


ES v Shillington, 2021 ABQB 739 is a decision arising from an action where a male partner in a long-term relationship shared intimate images of his partner on porn websites. The female partner, the plaintiff, did not consent to those private photographs being shared on the internet by her romantic partner, the defendant. She was also verbally, sexually, and physically abused by the Defendant.


The decision is important because the Court recognized a new tort in Alberta for disclosure of private facts and confirms a legal avenue for victims of domestic violence and non-consensual distribution of private images online. The decision is also significant because the Court awarded damages of $460,000 to the plaintiff, $155,000.00 of which was for damages she suffered by him publishing explicit pictures of her on the Internet.


Tort law is a cornerstone of the Canadian legal system. It provides compensation for people who have been injured; or whose property has been damaged by the wrongdoing of others. The word tort comes from the Latin word “tortum”, which means “wrong, injustice.” The purpose of tort law is not to punish wrongdoers; it is to provide damages to victims as compensation for their losses. Intentional torts are the most serious. They are deliberate acts intended to injure others; or to interfere with another person’s rights.

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