10 Things You Need To Know About Defamation | Stone Group Lawyers

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10 Things You Need To Know About Defamation

1. Who can sue for defamation?

A person, a not for profit organisation or a company that employs fewer than 10 people (and is not related to anther corporation nor is a public company).

2. Defamation requires a statement to be untrue

In order for a statement to satisfy the legal definition of defamation, the statement must be untrue.  Someone has said simply something about you to which you take offence, is not necessarily defamatory.

3. Defamation requires a statement to be published

For a statement to be deemed ‘published’; it must have been communicated to a third person either intentionally or unintentionally.

4. Identification

The defamatory statement must identify you specifically or be reasonable taken to be about you.

5. Defamation requires an injury to reputation

If the defamatory statement you take issue with has not injured your reputation, then it will most likely not satisfy the legal definition of defamation. For example, if someone has spread a false rumour about you that you are a terrible dancer, you are unlikely to have recourse.

6. Concerns Notice

The first step in pursuing an action in defamation is sending a Concerns Notice.  A Concerns Notice is a written letter sent to the person who made the defamatory statement adequately describing the alleged defamatory material and seeking a remedy (including an apology).

7. Offer to make amends

If you have received a Concerns Notice, you could write an offer to make amends such that it is in writing and is readily identifiable as an offer to make amends. The letter could include:

– an offer to publish, or join in publishing, a reasonable correction of the matter in question;
– an offer to pay the expenses reasonably incurred by the aggrieved person; and
– an offer to publish an apology in relation to the alleged defamatory publication.

8. Acceptance of offer

If you accept the offer to make amends, you cannot sue the maker of the defamatory statement as the matter is then deemed resolved.

9. An apology does not amount to an admission of liability

If an apology made by the person who made the defamatory statement, it does not constitute an express or implied admission of fault or liability.

10. Defences

If someone alleges that you have made a defamatory statement, you could rely on the following:

  • Justification (if the alleged defamatory statement is substantially true);
  • Contextual truth;
  • Absolute privilege;
  • The publication of public documents;
  • Fair reporting of proceedings of public concern;
  • Honest opinion;
  • Innocent dissemination.

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