A Defendant to a defamation claim may offer to make amends for the lies or insults about someone’s character in order to prevent further legal proceedings.
Promptly correcting a mistake, issuing an apology, offering to pay the Plaintiff’s legal costs and offering to pay compensation will all assist in mitigating the damages in a defamation claim and they may prevent the claim from going any further.
Any such offer must be made within 28 days of receiving a “Concerns Notice” which is a notice in writing of what the Plaintiff considers to be the relevant defamatory material. If a Concerns Notice is received which does not adequately describe the defamatory material, the Defendant may send the Plaintiff a “Further Particulars Notice” requesting further information about the imputations of concern. The Plaintiff must reply within 14 days for the Concerns Notice to remain effective.
If a Plaintiff accepts an offer to settle, then they are prohibited from commencing, continuing or enforcing any Claim for defamation against the publisher in relation to the lies or insults complained of, even if the offer to settle only related to some of the lies or insults that were made.
If an offer to make amends for the lies or insults is not accepted, then it is a defence to a claim for defamation of character if the Defendant made the offer as soon as practicable after becoming aware of the complaint, they were ready, willing and able to carry out the terms of the offer and the offer was a reasonable one.
An apology is not an admission of guilt, fault or liability but it is relevant to the amount of damages that are ultimately awarded because it is seen as taking out at least some of the sting of the offending material.
Alex Nelson is a Brisbane Defamation Lawyer.