Defamation Lawyers


Have you been defamed? We can help you protect your personal and professional reputation.

If someone has made a statement, either verbally or in writing, about you or your business that you believe is defamatory and has damaged your personal or business reputation or caused economic loss, Attwood Marshall Lawyers have defamation lawyers who can assist you with commencing defamation proceedings. We will provide legal advice, defend your reputation, have the material retracted, obtain an apology, seek compensation, and explore other remedies that may be available to you. 

Conversely, you might have been wrongfully accused of defaming someone. There are numerous defences to a claim for defamation which include where statements made are justified because they are substantially true, or when the statements are part of an honestly held opinion.

Our expert defamation lawyers understand the stress, frustration and helplessness people feel when they have been defamed and know that acting promptly to ensure no further reputational damage is done is imperative in defamation disputes.

Our defamation lawyers can assist with:​

Strict time limits apply when making a claim under the Defamation Act 2005. It is crucial to seek legal advice from expert defamation lawyers promptly to assess your situation, understand defamation laws, and determine the necessary legal steps to take to resolve your defamation claim.

We can help you identify defamatory imputations in publications about you. Navigating the complex legislative framework can be challenging, as each state and territory in Australia has slightly different provisions.

Our defamation lawyers possess the expertise in legal principals, elements, and defences related to defamation, coupled with a deep understanding of reputational risk, enabling them to assess your specific situation and determine whether it constitutes defamation.

They will also be able to advise you on the jurisdiction-specific legislation applicable to your matter. What may be considered defamatory in one state may not be considered defamatory in another under state-specific laws.

Additionally, a defamation lawyer can assess your likelihood of successfully making a defamation claim and the potential damages that may be awarded in court proceedings.

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For Individuals

In its basic form, defamation occurs when there is a publication of information that carries meanings which are harmful to a person’s reputation. A defamatory statement can damage a person’s character, good name, or standing in the community.

Determining if something spoken, or written, about you is defamatory requires an assessment of the circumstances and applicable defamation laws in your jurisdiction.

The elements required to prove that something is defamatory are:

  1. The material was published to a third person;
  2. The material published or communication identifies the aggrieved person;
  3. The material contained defamatory imputations which are untrue; and
  4. The publication caused serious harm to the aggrieved person’s reputation.

A Concerns Notice is a formal written letter written pursuant to the uniform defamation legislation, sent to the person(s) responsible for publishing the information which carries defamatory imputations.

A Notice must be served on the publisher of defamatory material before any proceedings can commence. A Concerns Notice informs the publisher of the alleged material, where the material was published, the defamatory imputations conveyed, that serious harm has been caused to the person’s reputation because of the publication, and invites the publisher to make an offer to make amends under the uniform defamation legislation. A Notice may require the person provide an apology and reasonable correction of the publication and pay the aggrieved person’s reasonable legal costs incurred.

If defamation is proven, and the court is satisfied that there is no arguable defence for the defamatory publication, then a court may make an award for damages, which may include:

a) General damages for non-economic loss, which is assessed proportionate to the harm caused to the individual’s reputation;

b) Special damages for economic loss; and/or

c) Aggravated damages, where the court consider there is an element of malice.

Yes! You must commence proceedings within 1 year from the date of publication of the defamatory material. The court may extend the limitation period in exceptional circumstances.

Given the aggrieved person is required to serve a Concerns Notice before commencing proceedings, and must allow the publisher 28 days to make an offer to make amends, it is important that you seek expert legal advice and act without delay to ensure you are not barred from commencing defamation action.

Can you be liable for re-posting defamatory matter

It is possible to sue a publisher, not only against the original publisher but also against the publisher who re-posted the defamatory material.

For Corporations

In Australia, certain corporations are excluded from bringing an action under the uniform defamation legislation. These are referred to as ‘excluded corporations’. Although excluded corporations are not eligible to commence an action in defamation, they may have a cause of action for injurious falsehood, a common law cause of action, in certain circumstances, which involves a false statement.

An excluded corporation is either:

  1. A not-for-profit organisation;
  2. A small company which employs less than 10 employees.

If someone makes a false representation about another person or company’s goods or services, and that person or company suffers economic loss because of the false or malicious statement, they may be able to commence an action for what is referred to as “injurious falsehood”.

Each defamation case is considered on its own facts and merit, but generally, there are a number of statutory defences available to a defendant accused of defamation. These include where a person publishing the matter can prove the statement:

  1. made is substantially true – justification;

  2. carried other imputations which are substantially true, and because of those, the imputations carried from the defamatory statements do not further harm the reputation of the plaintiff – contextual truth;

  3. was made in Parliament or in a court – absolute privilege;

  4. appears in a public document such as a government document, and has been republished – public document;

  5. was published as part of a fair report of proceedings of public concern – fair report;

  6. was published in the interests of the public – public interest;

  7. was published to a person who had an interest in having that information and the conduct of the publisher was reasonable in the circumstances – qualified privilege;

  8. was an honestly held opinion rather than a statement of fact, the opinion is of public interest and is based on proper material – honest opinion;

  9. was published merely in a capacity as an employee or agent of a subordinate distributor, where the publisher had no knowledge the publication contained defamatory comments and the lack of knowledge was not due to any negligence – innocent dissemination.

If you are accused of defamation, it is important that you obtain legal advice without delay.

Defamation Case Law

Defamation cases are on the rise in Australia. In the following example cases, we provide a snapshot of the developments in defamation law.

Goldberg v Voigt​
In Goldberg v Voigt [2020] NSWDC 174, the District Court of New South Wales awarded the plaintiff Bruce Goldberg $35,000 in damages for defamation arising from a single post on the internet that the defendant Alice Voigt made on a community Facebook webpage. The judge found that Ms Voigt’s post conveyed imputations that Mr Goldberg was a danger to women and that he was a stalker. In siding with Mr Goldberg, the judge said that the imputations were serious and that the defendants’ apologies and offers to settle the dispute were made too late to factor as a defence.
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Geoffrey Rush v Nationwide News​
In April 2019, Geoffrey Rush was awarded a record $2.87 million in his defamation case against Rupert Murdoch’s Nationwide News. At the heart of the case (Rush v Nationwide News Pty Ltd (No 7) [2019] FCA 496) were two front page articles published by the Daily Telegraph in late 2017 that Mr Rush claimed depicted him as a pervert and sexual predator.Mr Rush also accused the newspaper of wrongly portraying him as having behaved inappropriately toward a female co-star. In the ruling, the judge described the newspaper’s articles as “recklessly irresponsible journalism” and rejected the publisher’s truth defence. Nationwide News lost its appeal of the decision in July 2020.
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Rebel Wilson v Bauer Media​
In 2017, Rebel Wilson was awarded $4.7 million in her defamation case against Woman’s Day publisher Bauer Media. Ms Wilson sued Bauer Media over a series of magazine articles that were published in 2015 depicting her as a serial liar. The amount was later reduced to $600,000 by an Appeals Court after the court found a lack of evidence that Ms Wilson suffered an economic loss of the magnitude of the original award.
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Contact our Defamation Law Department Manager

Attwood Marshall Lawyers has experienced defamation lawyers that assist clients in their defamation cases. We are a law firm that represents both plaintiffs and defendants in complex defamation claims and defamation proceedings. If you think you have a claim and need advice to find out what steps to take to protect your reputation, contact us today.



Message our Department Manager, Amanda