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Introduction to defamation

Disputes

“Our esteemed Rod Berry talking about the core elements of defamation. Watch the video or read the transcript below to find out more about defamation;”

What I’d like to do now is just to give you a potent introduction to what the basic rules and processes are around defamation.

I said earlier that we used to talk about libel and slander. Libel were things that were written, slander things that were said. Those are now merged in our uniform defamation laws. There basically needs to be a publication. It can be spoken, it can be writing, it can be digital, doesn’t matter. Anything that involves words that have a tendency to damage the reputation of a person.

It needs to have been published to a third party. So, I can’t defame you by saying something nasty to you, about you. It needs to be said to some third party audience for it to be defamatory.

There are rules about who can sue, and this is one that often traps people. If you are an individual you can sue. If you are a not-for-profit you can sue. But if you are a business that employees 10 or more people, you can’t. It’s excluded from the defamation rules. So, bigger companies cannot bring defamation claims. And it’s interesting the number of times we receive letters around these issues, and it’s a very simple answer to say well, “Sorry, uh, your statute-barred.”

There are time limits, and the basic rule is 12 months, and there are notices that need to be served before you can commence proceedings. The core processes are quite interesting. One of the more interesting aspects is that you can elect to have the matter heard with a jury. It’s a jury of four people. If you for example, were wanting to make a technical argument, which would require a good understanding of the law, you’d rather not opt for a jury, you’d want a judge, who is able to make a decision. On the other hand, if this was someone that might garner a lot of sympathy from a jury, then you might elect for a jury to hear the case.