Australia - Defamation of Character NSW Laws

Defamation Demand Letters Australia - Defamation of Character NSW Laws

Defamation of Character NSW Laws - Australia

In Australia, defamation of character is sometimes confused with disparagement. While the former is capable of causing personal losses and demeaning the entity of a person in the eyes of others, the latter is targeted at a person’s economic interests, both can be severely damaging and it is best to quickly address it if you suspect a note or comment to be defamatory or disparaging.

This article provides a comprehensive guide to defamation of character laws in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, and how you can tackle defamation using a cease and desist letter before heading to court!

Defamation of Character Laws - NSW, Australia

The Australian laws regarding defamation stem from a 2005 amendment of its Defamation Act (NSW). According to the law. a person found guilty of defamation is liable to both civil and criminal punishments depending on the severity of the act.

Generally, an act of defamation can be libel or slander. The laws of NSW specify three preconditions for classifying an act as defamation:

PublishedIt was broadcasted or orally communicated through a medium accessible to at least one other person apart from the party who claims to have been defamed.
Capable of Identification The content of the defamation gives away the identity of the person defamed or has the potential to do so.
Inherently DefamatoryThis means the component of the defamation is structured in a way that makes the defamed party become:

  • ostracized or despised in society.
  • less honorable with a dwindling reputation among rational members of the society.
  • stripped away present or future economic or non-economic gains.

What Isn't Defamation in Australia?

According to the 2nd division in the 4th part of Australian libel law, there are certain instances where a case for defamation will not be held up in court. These instances are:

  1. It is justifiable. If the alleged defamer can prove the publication as true, then it ceases to be defamation and becomes a fact. This clause can be found in section 25.
  2. There is substantial truth. According to section 26, If the alleged defamer can demonstrate to the court a reasonable element of truth, which nullifies whatever claim of harm, then the publication ceases to be called defamation.
  3. It's an honest opinion. In this case, the defamer would have to prove the defamatory content as a mere expression of personal opinion which should not be misconstrued as a fact. This is found in section 31.
  4. It can be proven as innocent dissemination. Here in section 32 of the law,  the alleged defamer will have to convince the court that they were not negligent,  the burden of verification of information does not rest on them, and they are also reasonably limited to do so, given the position they occupy and their limited access to information.
  5. The alleged defamer has absolute privilege. Evidence, reports, testimonies, and judgments in court proceedings, during parliamentary proceedings, or proceeding out of the mount of a public official are protected by absolute privilege, as stipulated in section 27.
  6. The alleged defamer has qualified privilege. Section 30: This depends on whether the information regarded as defamation is of interest to a recognized special person or body of persons, and that the alleged defamer has not acted in a manner that shows professionalism or malicious intent.
  7. The source of defamation is from a public document. A person who culls an alleged defamatory statement from a public document is not liable to face charges of defamation, based on section 28.
  8. The content is notable for public concern. Materials that have been reported as necessary for public knowledge and concern especially in the capacity of international, local, and diplomatic concerns are not to be regarded as defamatory, according to Section 29.
  9. It can be proven as trivial. Section 33, dismisses a defamation claim if the defendant can establish that there is no harm sustained by the plaintiff on account of a publication.

Steps You Can Take Against a Defamer

You have a period of 12 months to bring up a defamation case in Australia. Here are some of the steps you should follow to address defamation.

  1. Confront the party involved. This is recommended if you have a close relationship with the defamer and can contact them privately. You can bring with you a third party who might serve as a mediator or eventually be a witness in court.
  2. Send a cease and desist letter. A cease and desist letter is a great option to let your defamer know you intend to escalate the matter to court if they do not desist from such defamation.
  3. File a defamation lawsuit. It is usually advisable to exhaust both options before heading to court. Your cease and desist letter can serve as a valuable piece of evidence in court. Most defamation cases are settled in small claims court where you can obtain financial compensation of up to $10,000.

Let DoNotPay Do the Work for You!

DoNotPay is the perfect, convenient solution! The cease and desist letter DoNotPay drafts will detail the information about the case, demand retraction, warn against any impending statements, and order that the accused begins to abide by Australia law.

All you need to do is:

1. Search for Defamation Demand Letters on DoNotPay.

2. Tell us about your situation:

    • Were the statements slander or libel?
    • What were the statements?
    • Why are they false or misleading?
    • What consequences have you suffered as a result of these statements?

3. Based on your location, DoNotPay will immediately generate a formal demand letter on your behalf, with the most relevant state legislation regarding defamation.

That’s it! You can expect a meticulously drafted cease and desist letter tailored to your needs, in an instant! 

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