Establishing Holding Out Through Facebook and LinkedIn

It can be challenging for regulators to prove holding out based primarily on social media postings. The case of Law Society of Saskatchewan v Siekawitch, 2016 SKQB 345 may make it easier for them to do so. In that case, the regulator sought an injunction against Mr. Siekawitch for holding himself out as a lawyer based on a telephone call in which he called himself an attorney, as well as his Facebook and LinkedIn posts. There was no direct evidence that Mr. Siekawitch was the person on the telephone beyond his identifying himself at the beginning of the call. The Court held that such self-identification was a recognized exception to the hearsay rule.

In terms of the social media postings, the Court was willing to infer that they had been posted by Mr. Siekawitch based on their content. The Court took judicial notice of the nature of the social media sites and analyzed the detailed content of those sites as making it unlikely that they belonged to anyone else. The Court also noted similarities between the claims made on the sites and the language used in the telephone conversation. Mr. Siekawitch’s uncommon name and the fact that he did not appear to dispute the evidence against him gave the Court confidence that the sites represented holding out and the Court issued an injunction against him.

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