Defamation

The Bennett & Philp Defamation and Media Team has extensive experience in advising and acting in relation to defamation and media matters.

Whether you wish to make a claim or you believe a claim of defamation is imminent against you, it is important that you seek our advice so that we can act quickly to either try and resolve the matter or alternatively put you in a better to position to make or defend a claim.

What constitutes defamation?

Defamation is any written or oral statement communicated to at least one or more other persons which injures another’s reputation. There are three essential elements required in order to establish a cause of action in defamation:

  • The defamatory words must be communicated to at least one other person, that is, someone other than the person defamed
  • The person defamed must be able to be identified from the written or spoken words
  • The words must be defamatory in the sense that they are likely to cause right minded persons to think less of the person defamed

It is irrelevant that the defamatory words were not intended to be defamatory. Once the existence of the three essential elements of defamation are established then prima facie a cause of action in defamation arises. It is then a matter of determining what if any possible defences may apply as in some instances defamatory words may be published with impunity.

What do I do if I am accused of defaming someone?

Often the provision of a swift apology or an offer of amends will resolve a potentially expensive claim for damages.

In some circumstances a defamation may be defensible. For example, a claim may be defensible if it can be established that the defamatory imputations are substantially true. In other circumstances defences such as contextual truth, fair comment, qualified privilege, or other forms of defence may be successfully raised in order to defeat a possible claim.

It is imperative to contact us as soon as it becomes apparent that a claim of defamation is imminent so that we can act quickly to either try and resolve the matter or alternatively put you in a better to position to defend a claim.

If you have been accused of defaming someone, or think you are at risk of being accused, call Mark Jones, head of our Defamation and Media Team, today on +61 7 3001 2999.