What is defamation law?
The concept around which all defamation law revolves around is harm or injury which is done to the reputation of another which is unjustifiable, malicious or wrong. There are a number of different types of defamation. There is the tort of defamation which is an action that is litigated in a civil jurisdiction as a dispute between parties. This means that the action is ligitated by the parties bringing evidence and the judge making a determination by applying the law to the evidence. There is a criminal defamation which is much more difficult to prove and also much more serious. It is a matter where the allegations being made are so serious and the harm done to the reputation of the person is so wrongful and so malicious that it is a matter prosecuted by the police. Some of the key points which need to be proven in order to establish a claim of defamation are the there is an imputation which is capable of being defamatory, that the imputation identifies the plaintiff and that the imputation was published, which usually means that it was communicated to a group of people, meaning more than one.
There are also a number of defences to defamation. The first is honest opinion. This means that if the person was simply giving their opinion, it is not considered defamatory. Another defence is the defence of privilege. There are certain communications which are privileged such as statements made in parliament, under oath in court or in a professional report which has privileged status. Other defences may include triviality, the defence of truth, that the plaintiff has died, the plaintiff agreed to publication or that the matter was the subject of political debate. In Australia, there are also now uniform defamation laws which apply accross every state of Australia and mean that the defamation law is that same in every state. The way that defamation is punished is usually through civil damages. THese can be compensatory damages to put the plaintiff back in the position that they would have been in had the tort not occurred, special damages and agravated damages.
If you have been accused of defamation or you think you may have been defamaed, we have lawyers who specialise in this are who can assist you with the initial stages of this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us using any of the contact methods available on this site.