At Antunes Lawyers we respect the public right of free speech and freedom of expression for all individuals. However, we also aim to ensure that we are able to provide effective and fair solutions for persons whose reputations are harmed by publications of a defamatory manner.  We understand that there are circumstances in which our clients may have defamatory material published and wish to defend their reputation, and we also aim to protect our clients’ right to free speech.

What is ‘defamation?’

Defamation in Australian law refers to the process of which a person feels published material viewed by the public has damaged their reputation. If the information published is false or partially truthful and that information damages a person’s reputation or leads them to be ridiculed, insulted or despised by the general public, this person may have grounds to file a defamation case. Defamation in New South Wales is covered under the Defamation Act 2005.

Australian legal authorities must attempt to balance the competing rights of parties in regards to defamation. In one respect, it is the duty of the law to protect individual’s reputations from unfair comments and slander. However, the law also must protect expression of opinion of individuals under the public right to freedom of speech. This can cause significant difficulty for the Courts.

Traditionally, defamation was confined to printed materials, such as newspapers, and statements made on television and radio. However, due to the rise of technology and social media, the possible areas in which defamatory material can be published has grown. This has complicated the way that legal practitioners approach defamation cases.

Defamation on Social Media

Defamation can come from many sources, and determining the question on who is liable for the defamatory matter is a constantly changing answer. The recent case of Voller v Nationwide News Pty Ltd; Fairfax Media Publications Pty; Australian News Channel Pty Ltd [2019] NSWSC 766 held that individuals or corporations who operate online public forums, such as Facebook pages, are liable for any defamatory comments made by other users. This will amount to publication of defamatory matter. This case highlights the need for individuals and companies who maintain a social media persona to be careful and diligent in how third-parties can comment on the information posted.

Defences to Defamation

There may be instances in which you are taken to Court due to a person alleging your comments were defamatory. As outlined in the Defamation Act 2005 (NSW), there are several defences available to those who are accused of defamation. Defences include honest opinion, triviality and the substantial truth of the statement.

How we can assist:

The experienced civil litigation lawyers at Antunes Lawyers can provide comprehensive advice on the most effective way in which to file grounds for defamation and protect your reputation. Alternatively we can also advise on how to best defend any claim against you for defamation.

Talk to one of our expert lawyers today.