Character Defamation

 Character Defamation is on the rise, especially with the growth in popularity of internet based social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.  Alex Nelson is a Brisbane Defamation Lawyer specialising in the law surrounding  Character Defamation.

Some of Alex Nelson’s recent notable Character Defamation cases include:

  • Moy v Isaac; (the Bali Wedding Planner case) $150,000 damages including aggravated damages for Defamatory Facebook and website publications;
  • Weatherall v Kelly (2019); extension of the limitation period for more than two years
  • Clive Palmer v Malcolm Turnbull [2018] QCA 112. Confirmed that foreign law is presumed to be the same as local law and does not need to be pleaded by the Plaintiff, unless they see a forensic advantage in doing so
  • Grattan v Porter [2016] QDC 202 where Alex nelson acted for the Plaintiff who was awarded $150,000 damages and $10,903.42 interest.
  • Petty v Zhao (NSW District Court) where Alex Nelson acted for the Defendant and the jury found that all of the defamatory imputations that she published about her neighbour, a QC in Sydney, were substantially true.
  • Sierocki v Klerck & Ors [2015] QSC 092 where Alex Nelson acted for the Plaintiffs; the First Plaintiff awarded $220,000 damages plus $27,614.60 interest; Second Plaintiff awarded $70,000 damages and $10,173.80 interest.

Character Defamation is both a civil and criminal wrong and is a combination of the old actions for slander and libel.

A person is defamed when the Defendant:

1. communicates (or publishes):

2. material (in spoken, written or pictorial form):

3. about the Plaintiff (must be a living individual, a non profit organization or a company with less than 10 employees which is not related to another company):

4. which is defamatory because it:

  • injures their reputation by exposing them to hatred, contempt or ridicule;

  • causes people to shun or avoid them; or

  • lowers their estimation in the mind of right thinking members of society.

5. which causes, or is likely to cause, serious harm (for a company that means serious financial loss).

At law a statement can convey a defamatory meaning (an imputation):

  • By their natural and ordinary meaning;

  • By a false innuendo, when there is a secondary meaning which comes from reading between the lines.

  • By a true innuendo, where the insult comes from reading the words used in light of other facts known by the recipient of the words or pictures used.

If these elements are met, and provided no valid defence or privilege exists, then a Defendant will be liable to compensate the Plaintiff for damage caused by the Character Defamation  and for the emotional hurt (or sting) of the lies or the insults.  An injunction may also be obtained to prevent further defamatory publication so as to protect your character.

Some common fallacies:

1.  You do not have to be famous – in fact, it could work against you if you were;

2.  You do not have to prove that the statements are false;

3.  An individual does not have to prove that they have suffered any actual losses because the law presumes damage to have occurred from the publication of defamatory material and damages in defamation are often compensation for embarrassment and hurt feelings.

Time Limits

A claim for damages for Character Defamation must be commenced within 1 year after publication , although in some circumstances that timeframe can be extended to three years.

If you want to start a claim for Character Defamation then you should consult a Brisbane defamation lawyer (barrister or solicitor) because the law is quite complex.

Click here for information about defamation of character.


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