Defamation

Defamation Law

Your Best Legal Option in Defamation Cases

Whether your reputation is damaged as a result of a publication of a defamatory statement, or you are accused of defaming someone, we can provide expert advice on your Defamation case. Call us today on (02) 82774556 and seek legal advice.

What is the cause of action for defamation?

The plaintiff must prove three (3) essential elements to establish cause of action:

1) publication;

2) identification; and

3) defamatory meaning.

The publication must be made to a third person and may be made in writing or orally or even by conduct. A cause of action does not arise if the defamatory matter or Matter Complained Of (MCO) is not communicated to a third person.

The matter complained of must be published about the plaintiff. An action in defamation does not arise unless a plaintiff can prove that he or she has been identified either directly or indirectly from the defamatory material complained of.

Whether or not a publication is defamatory is a question of fact although the court is bound to rule whether as a matter of law, the words are capable of being defamatory: Capital & County Bank Ltd v Henty (1882) 7 AC 741

 

Defamation defences

The common law and perhaps more importantly, the legislation, provide many defences to the publication of the defamatory material. A basic understanding of these defences is vital before commencing an action for defamation.

Some of the legislative defences in defamation are as follows:

1. Justification

2. Contextual truth

3. Publication of public documents

4. Fair report of proceedings of public concern

5. Qualified privilege for provision of certain information

6. Honest opinion

7. Innocent dissemination

 

Damages

Generally speaking, when a plaintiff succeeds in defamation proceedings, that plaintiff is entitled to an award of compensatory damages. Damages for non-economic loss are capped under the legislation and the current amount is $421,000.

Damages for defamation under the present law serve 3 functions:

1. to act as a consolation to the claimant for the distress they have suffered as a result of the defamation,

2. to repair the harm to the claimant’s reputation and

3. to vindicate their reputation.

 

Cases

Murray v Raynor (2019)

The Court of Appeal of Supreme Court of New South Wales allowed appeal and set aside the
orders of Gibson DCJ made on 17 May 2019 and ordered that the proceedings be dismissed
with costs.