Defamation & Media Law

Our litigation team brings decades of experience in bringing claims for defamation and defences against defamation cases.

In the age of social media, this is a rapidly growing area of law that can affect any individual or business (of 10 employees or less).

Our litigation team brings decades of experience in bringing claims for defamation and defences against defamation cases. Whether you need legal advice for defamatory material on social media or public documents, we have the experience and specialist knowledge. We have had many successful cases in claiming damages for defamation and having defamatory material removed from the internet.

Contact our litigation team for initial guidance or advice.

Have I Been Defamed?

If you think a comment or publication may have damaged your reputation and/or caused you loss, you could have a claim.

To have a defamation claim:

  1. It must be: spoken or written communication that;
  2. Is directly about you or your business (of 10 employees or less) that;
  3. Is communicated to someone else.

Time Limits on a Defamation Claim

If you believed you have been defamed It’s important to seek legal counsel as you have 1 year from the date of publication to bring forth a defamation action. To begin a defamation action a “concerns notice” needs to be issued to the other side.

The date of publication means the date that the matter was first made available for public access or sent electronically to the recipient.

Social Media

The laws have recently changed if you have a website or run a Facebook group.

In a recent High Court case, Fairfax Media Publications v Voller, it was found that the owner of the Facebook page was responsible for all the comments made by others on their page. An owner of a social media page is called a “publisher” and is responsible for everything on the page, as they are providing a platform for the publication of the defamatory material through their page. It does not matter if the owner of the page is unaware of the content being published nor intends for it to be published.

This case has created a precedent for owners of social media pages to more closely moderate content. This can come in the form of reading comments regularly or even turning off the ability to comment on posts.

I’ve Been Accused of Defamation

If you’ve been accused of defamation or received a ‘Concerns Notice’ under the Defamation Act, seek legal counsel immediately. It’s important to understand the potential impact of the claim, and the legal options you have, including identifying any available defences.

Defences Against Defamation Cases

There are many defences including:

  • Justification”- if the contents of the statements are substantially true;
  • Contextual truth”- if within the context it can be implied that what was communicated was substantially;
  • Absolute privilege”- if the material is published in the course of proceedings of a parliamentary body;
  • Publication of public documents”- a public document can include a report published by a parliamentary body;
  • Fair report of proceedings of public concern’”- The intention behind these publications is generally for the information of the public or advancement of education. These include court proceedings and must be a fair account of the whole of the proceedings.
  • Qualified privilege for provision of certain information”- if the recipient has an interest or apparent interest in having information on the subject which is reasonable in the circumstances and the matter is published in the course of giving the recipient information on the subject.
  • Honest opinion”- the statement is an expression of the opinion of the defendant rather than a statement of fact; and the opinion is related to a matter of public interest; and the opinion is based on proper material. The proper material- is substantially true; or based on qualified privilege; or a public document; or a fair proceeding or public concern.
  • Innocent dissemination”- the person who published the defamatory material in their employment capacity; neither knew or should have known the material was defamatory and their lack of knowledge that this material was defamatory was not negligent.
  • Scientific or academic peer review”- it is a defence if the matter was published in a scientific or academic peer reviewed journal
  • Public interest”- it is a defence if is prove that the matter is of public interest and the defendant reasonably believed that the matter was of public interest, after the court considers the circumstances of the case.
  • Triviality” – the aggrieved is unlikely to sustain any harm.

Our experienced team at Hickey Lawyers can assist you at defending defamation claims or settle defamation matters before they reach court. Contact us today for initial guidance or advice.

EXPERIENCED LAWYERS

Derek Finch

Partner

LL.B (Hons-1), BA (Hons-1)

Derek heads our litigation and dispute resolution area of the firm.

+61 (0)7 5559 7439

Scott Eustace

Partner

B.Bus (Accy), LL.B (Hons), LL.M - Accredited Specialist in Commercial Litigation and Nationally Accredited Mediator.

Scott is a Partner in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution team at Hickey Lawyers.

+61 (0)7 5556 7453

Damien Hodgson

Special Counsel

LL.B – Accredited Specialist in Commercial Litigation

Damien specialises in commercial litigation, and planning law.

+61 (0)7 5556 7453
RELATED NEWS & UPDATES

17th May 2022

ATO Debt Recovery: Director’s Penalty Notice

In November 2021 the ATO indicated it would recommence debt recovery with a “tailored approach”. We expect with a backlog of some two years, there will be an increase in the number of DPNs issued in the coming months.

4th November 2020

Family Law Expansion For Hickey Lawyers

Leading Gold Coast law firm, Hickey Lawyers, has added a Family Law offering to its long-established practice.

15th June 2020

Qld Implementation Of The National Code Of Conduct

QLD has now passed legislation giving effect to the Mandatory Code of Conduct, with the Retail Shop Leases and Other Commercial Leases