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Defamation

Do you think you’ve been defamed? Read on to find out more about defamation in Queensland, or book your free phone consultation to find out more.

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What is Defamation in Queensland?

The tort of defamation occurs when defamatory material relating to an individual or a corporation provided it employs fewer than 10 persons and is not related to another corporation (that is not a pubic body) is published. A tort, in common law jurisdictions such as Australia, is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in liability for the person who committed the tortious act. 

The relevant legislation 

In Queensland, the relevant legislation is the Defamation Act 2005 (Qld) (the “Act”). The Act governs the law of defamation in Queensland in respect of publications made after 1 January 2006. 

The Act repealed the Defamation Act 1899.  

Who can sue for defamation 

  • A person; or 
  • A corporation. 

The Act states that either of the following can have cause of action for defamation: 

Certain corporations do not have cause of action for defamation. These conditions include:

  • it employs fewer than 10 persons and is not related to another corporation; or 
  • a not for profit organisation,

and the corporation is not a public body. 

Time frame to commence defamation action? 

An action on a cause of action for defamation must not be brought after the end of 1 year from the date of the publication of the matter complained of (section 10AA Limitation of Actions Act 1974). 

Elements of a defamation claim

The elements of a defamation claim are not found in the Act rather, they have been decided by the common law (i.e., the Courts). These elements include publication, identification and defamatory matter.   

Method of publication 

The method of publication is usually very broad – however, it can include spoken words, written communications, newspapers, the internet / social media posts, text messages, tweets, gestures, photographs, or other images. 


Defences 

According to the Act and the common law, defences include: 

  • Justification
  • Contextual truth
  • Absolute privilege
  • Public documents
  • Fair report of proceedings of public concern
  • Qualified privilege
  • Honest opinion
  • Innocent dissemination.

Offer to make amends 

The Act contains provisions to resolve these types of dispute without recourse to litigation. The non-litigious options include offer to make amends and apologies. 


Defamation Legal Services

Litigation 

A claim for defamation in Queensland is either filed in the Supreme Court or District Court (depending on the amount of damages being claimed). 

It is critical that you seek legal advice before commencing any such defamation of character lawsuit to ensure that the amount of damages claimed is commensurate with the damage caused, and to ensure that that claim is being made within time. 

In some instances, an injunction to restrain the publication of defamatory material is appropriate. Courts are often reluctant to grant an injunction and as such, the Court must be satisfied that the balance of convenience must favour the granting of an injunction. In exercising this discretionary power, the Court considers the strength of the plaintiff’s case, and evaluates the likely prejudice to each side if the injunction is granted, any alternative remedies available to the plaintiff, whether damages are an adequate remedy, and any delay by the plaintiff in bringing the application. 


Think you’ve been defamed?

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