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Don't let defamatory publications

affect your reputation

What Is Defamation?

Defamation is concerned with a person’s damaged reputation (previously used the terms 'libel' and 'slander'). Injurious Falsehood is a separate matter as it an action in tort law!


Defamation requires publication of the false or damaging claims - publications can come in the form of Facebook posts, Twitter posts, emails, internet articles, online business reviews, Google search results, YouTube, blog posts, SMS text messages, newspaper articles, radio shows, television shows, poems, novels, cartoons, paintings, photographs, songs and so on.

Interpretation of Defamatory Publication by Imputation

"Dr Smith is a fraud" will be rarely used. Usually, the meaning will be insinuated. The law calls this interpretation of the publication an 'imputation'.

For example, imputations include, "Dr Smith is a scammer", "Dr Smith provides bad services."

From past case law - .. is a scammer; …provides bad services; …blames others for his own problems; …delays work; …deserves to be fired form work; ….incompetent; ….mismanages business; ….deceiving; dishonest; ….insulting; ….a scab; …is a bully; …is a thief; predator, and so on.

Establishing the Publication as Defamatory?

You must establish that the reasonable person will view the material as likely to damage a person’s reputation. Alternatively, a publication can be defamatory if it is likely to cause a person to be subjected hatred, contempt, or ridicule, or if it is likely to cause a person to be shunned or avoided.

Compensation for Defamation Cases (2008 - 2018) (NSW)

The average award from 2008 to 2018 was $120,276, however, there is a wide variation. The most common awards are under $50,000.

In general, for the lower compensation amounts, the reach of the defamatory material tends to be small, such as to a hand-full of people. For the higher-compensation amounts, the defamatory material tends to be wide-spread over the media, repeated many times over, and or negatively affected the person’s financial situation.

Categories of Damage

  • Compensation for non-economic loss,
  • Compensation for aggravated damages,
  • Compensation for economic loss.

Recovering Legal Costs from the Defendant

Recovering legal costs from the losing party is usual (although costs are in the discretion of the Judge) - these amounts in the past range from $20,000 to $800,000.

Geoffrey Rush wins record $2.9 million defamation payout

The Oscar-winning actor now holds the record for the largest defamation payout to a single person in Australia.

Read in The Sydney Morning Herald: