LITIGATION & DISPUTE RESOLUTION
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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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:
- The material was published to a third person;
- The material published or communication identifies the aggrieved person;
- The material contained defamatory imputations which are untrue; and
- 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.
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:
- A not-for-profit organisation;
- 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:
made is substantially true – justification;
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;
was made in Parliament or in a court – absolute privilege;
appears in a public document such as a government document, and has been republished – public document;
was published as part of a fair report of proceedings of public concern – fair report;
was published in the interests of the public – public interest;
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;
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;
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.
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.