Blog

Articles and legal news from the Atkinson Vinden Team.

Slander, Libel & Defamation Lawyers in Sydney

Disputes

Slander and libel in Australia are both covered by defamation law. Defamation legislation comprises a complex area of law that is often modified by amendments to keep pace with technological and cultural changes. The days of corporate slander and cyber libel have changed over the past several decades, and Australia now provides a uniform approach to defamation.

To find out more about defamation law in New South Wales or dealing with legal disputes, please consult our extensive resources or get in touch with our team to speak with an experienced lawyer for slander and defamation.

The differences between slander and libel

Previously, defamation in NSW was separated into two terms: slander and libel. However, the differences between slander and libel were effectively abolished under the Defamation Act 2005, which introduced uniform defamation laws. 

Prior to 2006, slander and libel were two separate forms of defamation. Slander described oral defamation while libel was used to refer to written defamation. Now, all forms of defamation, whether they are oral or written, are addressed by defamation law.

Corporate slander and libel in the workplace

Slander and libel in the workplace are serious issues that can have dramatic ramifications on a person’s career and wellbeing. Often described as workplace or corporate defamation, defamation within a professional environment is covered by Australian legislation. 

Corporate defamatory imputation may include the publishing of material that harms a person’s professional reputation by suggesting a lack of capacity, knowledge, skills or qualification. However, there is a defence of qualified privilege that protects the rights of employers to provide honest adverse opinions without the risk of being sued for defamation. 

There are different rules applying to corporate slander or defamation that target a company rather than an individual. Only companies that fit specific requirements outlined by the Defamation Act can sue for defamation. This includes small (with less than 10 full-time employees) and not-for-profit companies.

Cyber libel

Cyber libel is a term typically used in the US, where differentiations between libel and slander still exist in legislation. 

Cyber libel describes defamation that occurs online. Defamatory material can be posted anywhere on the internet, including message boards, social media, chat rooms, blogs, or published articles. 

There is an additional complicating element arising from the perceived anonymity of the internet, along with its global audience. While digital defamation is a comparatively recent phenomenon, the same general rules apply to it as they do with traditionally published defamatory material. However, there is one noticeable difference with online defamation as all individuals involved in the process of digitally publishing the defamatory material can be sued. This includes website and blog owners – even if they did not publish the original comment.

Publications libel

In jurisdictions outside of Australia, publications libel refers to the physical publishing of defamatory material.

In Australia, all defamation is considered published if it is communicated to a third party. This includes spoken words and private messages, even though they are not traditionally considered ‘published’ materials.

Slander and Libel Defamation Laws in NSW

The Defamation Act 2005 serves as the primary legislation relating to the tort of defamation in NSW. It was enacted to promote uniform laws across Australia and ensure that the law of defamation does not unreasonably impact freedom of speech and the publication of matters of public interest.

According to the Defamation Act 2005, three specific components must first be proved by the plaintiff in order for defamation to be established. These three components include:

  1. Publication: the defamatory material must be published (i.e. communicated orally or in print) to at least one other party apart from the person who was allegedly defamed.
  2. Identification: the defamatory material must identify the allegedly defamed person. Identification may either be explicit or indirect.
  3. Definition: the material must be defamatory in its nature. This means the material is likely to cause irrefutable harm to the allegedly defamed person’s reputation.

What A Lawyer for Slander and Defamation Can Do For You

If you believe you have been defamed, it is recommended that you seek expert legal advice from a defamation/ libel and slander solicitor. There is a strict limitation period in defamation actions requiring that action must be brought within one year from the original publication date.


A defamation/ libel and slander solicitor can provide you with legal advice on how to most effectively respond to potential defamation. Our lawyers will work to seek the quick removal of defamatory publications and initiate mediation or legal actions against those who are responsible for publishing the defamatory material.

Who We Help

Our defamation/ slander and libel lawyers in Sydney act for both individuals and eligible companies in defamation cases. We have an established track record in helping defamed parties seek legal justice.


If you suspect that defamatory materials have been published against you, please get in touch with our team to secure expert legal advice on how you should proceed in a way that is both quick and effective. Contact us today to speak with an experienced defamation/ slander and libel solicitor.

PDF

Protecting your reputation starts with simplifying the complex. This handy checklist should quickly point you in the right direction and help you understand whether you have a case, and where to start to secure the best possible outocme.