Have you ever had someone say something about you that has caused serious harm to your reputation? This may be defamation.
What is Defamation?
Defamation occurs when factually incorrect information is published to an audience. For a claim in defamation to have prospects of success, the defamatory information (which identifies the subject person) must be published and/or communicated to a third party and that publication results in harm to the individual’s reputation.
Has “serious harm” occurred?
In early 2021, the threshold of “serious harm” came into existence under s 10A of the Defamation Act 2005 (Qld). The introduction of this new threshold means that those making a claim for defamation will need to prove that the defamatory publication has caused them serious harm or will cause serious harm to their reputation.
The Defamation Act 2005 (Qld) section 10A states the person alleging to be defamed must demonstrate “that the publication of defamatory matter about a person has caused, or is likely to cause, serious harm to the reputation of the person.”
Can I be liable for a defamation claim on social media? Have a look at our firm’s authored other article regarding Social Media Defamation.
Prerequisite to Litigation: Concerns Notices
In addition to the introduction of serious harm, section 12A of the Defamation Act 2005 (Qld) has now made the issuing of a concerns notice a mandatory step before commencing a claim for defamation.
Generally, a concerns notice is formal correspondence issued to the party who made the defamatory publication. The formal correspondence will notify the publisher of the defamatory material that the plaintiff believes they have been defamed.
Defences to Defamation
Sections 25-32 of the Defamation Act 2005 (Qld) prescribes a number of defences that are available to those subject to a claim for defamation:
- Defence of justification/truth: The defendant must prove the publication of defamatory comments are substantially true;
- Defence of contextual truth: The defendant must prove that the publication of the defamatory comments contained imputations that were substantially true and would not harm the subject of the publication;
- Defence of absolute privilege: The defendant must prove that the publications were made while in a court/tribunal or in the proceedings of a parliamentary body to be protected by privilege;
- Defence for publication of public documents: The defendant must prove that the publication was in a public document, a fair copy of a public document, a fair summary of, or a fair extract from, a public document;
- Defences of fair report of proceedings of public concern: The defendant must prove that the publication was or was contained in, a fair report of any proceedings of public concern;
- Defence of qualified privilege for provision of certain information: The defendant must prove that the publication was done so for moral, legal or social reasons;
- Defences of honest opinion: The defendant must prove that the publication was their honest opinion, rather than a statement of fact;
- Defence of innocent dissemination: The defendant must prove that the publication was done so in their employment as an employee or agent, of a subordinated distributor, that they did not know the publication was defamatory and that the defendant was not negligent in the publication;
Time limitations on defamation cases
If you believe you have been defamed, you will have 1 year from the date the defamatory information was published to bring a claim.
How can we help?
If you believe you have been defamed or are facing a claim of defamation, contact one of our experienced solicitors here at Greenhalgh Pickard. Gain peace of mind that our solicitors can provide you with advice and guide you through the process to ensure you are fully informed on your prospects of success in a defamation claim.
The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice or substitute for the advice of a professional. This information does not consider your personal circumstances and may not reflect the most current legal developments. Should you need advice, please contact our firm for targeted information relating to personal your situation.