Defamation Lawyers In Sydney That Value Client Relationships

We can provide Expert advice on your Defamation case

  • Over 35 years of experience in defamation cases

  • Personal, tailored services to suit your individual case

  • Strategies and options to minimise your legal costs

  • A sensitive approach to your case

Defamation Lawyers in Sydney That Value Client Relationships

If someone has publicly damaged your reputation, or if you have been accused of having done this to someone else – Atkinson Vinden’s Australian defamation lawyers can help you.

What is defamation?

Defamation of character occurs when one person communicates untrue or unsubstantiated material that causes reputational damage to another – without having a legal defence for doing so. It can take the form of a verbal statement (slander) or a written statement (libel), and needs to be communicated to one or more third parties.

The definition of defamation in NSW is primarily governed by the state’s Defamation Act 2005 (the Act). The Act effectively allows for action to be taken when something defamatory is “published” through a range of different contexts and media. It could take place in an article, report, advertisement or another form of content communicated via a newspaper, magazine, radio station, the internet or other communication methods. It could be written in a public letter or note, or stated orally without a written record.  

A number of parties can be sued in a defamation case, including:

  • The original author;
  • The person quoted or interviewed;
  • The journalist or publisher;
  • The television/radio station or broadcast media owner;
  • The website/social media channel owner

In general, only individuals can bring defamation proceedings forward. Sometimes, not-for-profits and companies with less than ten people can sue for defamation. Larger companies can sue for “injurious falsehood” instead. 

How We Can Provide Expert Advice on Your Defamation Case

Defamation cases are, by and large, extremely complex and therefore frequently require the assistance of a legal defamation expert. If you are looking for a Sydney lawyer who has experience in defamation law, or for further information in relation to any defamation issues or other areas of dispute, please do not hesitate to contact our Disputes team.

  • Elements of Defamation

    Three primary elements need to be proven in court to successfully claim compensation for defamation. These are:

    • Material must have been communicated to a third party – The defamatory content needs to have been communicated by the defendant to other people who have heard, read or seen the content. 
    • Person must be identifiable – The court must decide that an ordinary, reasonable person would be able to identify the person defamed by the published material in question. This is often one of the most difficult tests to satisfy.
    • Material must be defamatory – It needs to be proven that the published material does carry defamatory imputations that cause harm to a person’s reputation and leads others to think less of them. 
  • Defences to Defamation

    There are a number of defenses to defamation claims. Their applicability needs to be thoroughly considered and examined before any action is taken. 

    The most common defence against a defamation claim is truth. If the material said or written about you is substantially truthful, there will be no grounds for legal action. 

    Another defence is that the material in question represents the expression of an opinion rather than a factual statement. This can include an opinion based on existing, substantially true material and that is related to a matter of public interest.

    A third form of defence against a defamation claim is absolute privilege. This could involve statements that were made to certain government bodies or were communicated during court proceedings.

    In issues of defamation, it’s always good to try to objectively consider whether the matter at hand is trivial or not. If it is unlikely that someone’s reputation is damaged in any meaningful way, the court may well dismiss the case.

  • Resolution of Defamation Disputes

    There are two ways in which defamation disputes can be resolved: a resolution without litigation, and a resolution by initiating proceedings.

  • Resolution Without Litigation

    The majority of defamation cases don’t ever make it to court for two key reasons. The first is that taking such a case to court can have the unintended effect of amplifying the defamatory material and increasing the potential damage. The second reason is due to financial constraints. Defamation proceedings can be extremely expensive, and legal expenses for these cases often run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    For these reasons, a negotiation is usually undertaken to see if a compromise can be reached without resorting to litigation. 

  • Resolution by Initiating Proceedings

    If an agreement is unable to be reached, then a defamation action may commence, with the outcome determined by a judge or a jury. Though this can lead to compensatory damages being awarded if defamation is proven to have occurred, the lengthy and costly nature of such court cases means that a negotiated outcome is quite often preferable.

  • Time Limits for Defamation

    Generally speaking, a defamation claim should be brought forward within one year of the defamatory act/acts occurring. This can be extended to a period of three years in special circumstances. 

  • What Are My Options If I've Been Accused of Defamation?

    If you have inadvertently published a defamatory statement, it is important to know that a court will usually discount the damages it might otherwise order you to pay if you have made an apology to the other party. This is also true if you have published a correction. 

    If you realise that you have overstepped the mark in something you have said or written, it’s important to get out on the front foot and take steps to amend the issue early before things get out of hand.

  • Get in touch with us today!

    Give us a call at Atkinson Vinden Lawyers today if you find yourself in a difficult situation relating to defamation. Our team of Australian defamation lawyers is ready to provide skilled advice and help you negotiate the strict timelines and particular notices that come with defamation proceedings. Contact us immediately to hear how our experienced team can help you reach a swift resolution.

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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.