We have experience litigating and resolving many kinds of disputes including defamation actions.
Defamation is a term used to describe a situation in which one person makes a false or malicious statement about another person that harms their reputation. The statement might be in writing or oral. Historically, the term “libel” referred to written or published statements that are defamatory, and slander referred to spoken statements that are defamatory. Now, in Australia, the legislation in each state abolished the distinction and defamatory statements can be spoken or in writing.
In order for a statement to be considered defamation, it must be communicated to someone other than the person being defamed. The statement must also be false and must have caused harm to the person's reputation.
Defamation is a civil wrong, meaning that it is a legal wrong that is not a crime. This means that if someone is found to have defamed another person, they can be sued in civil court and may be ordered to pay damages to the person they defamed.
Defences to defamation include truth, consent, privilege, and opinion. If the statement that was made is true, then it is not defamation. If the person being defamed consented to the statement being made, then it also cannot be considered defamation.
There are certain situations in which a person is privileged to make a statement, even if it is false, without it being considered defamation. For example, statements made in a legal proceeding or by a government official in the course of their duties are typically privileged.
Expressing an opinion about someone, rather than stating a fact, is also generally not considered defamation. However, if the opinion implies the existence of undisclosed defamatory facts, it can be considered defamation.
If you believe that you have been defamed, it is important to speak with a lawyer with experience in defamation law. They can help you understand your options and advise you on the best course of action.