Defamation Defences

June 12, 2011 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Defamation Defences


Defamation Defences: 7 Defences available to Defendant






1. Justification or Truth – Must show facts!


     a. Defendant must prove truth of statement – Not Easy!


     b. These are not valid defences:


          i. Honest belief in Statement


          ii. Honest belief in Source


          iii. Honest belief in Circumstance






2. Fair Comment – The most popular defence (Freedom of Speech)


     a. Sting must be a comment, not a fact


     b. Comment is objective


     c. Comment is based on fact (Factual Basis) – Test: “Ordinary, Reasonable, Right-Thinking people”


     d. Public Interest *


     e. No Malice **






3. Qualified Privilege


     a. Shared Common Interest


          i. Confidentiality is NOT Qualified Privilege


     b. Social, Legal, Moral Duty * (Does media have a duty?)


     c. Reports of Proceedings


     d. No Malice **






4. Statutory Privilege


     a. Only Newspapers & Broadcasters have Statutory Privilege


     b. The report is listed in the Schedule *


     c. No blasphemous, seditious, indecent, or illegal material


     d. Must be for public concern and public benefit


     e. No Malice **


Absolute Privilege


     f. Applies to certain situations where a person should have the right to speak frankly without fear of reprisal


          i. In Court – Witness Statements, From one Lawyer to another, From Lawyer to Client, etc.


          ii. In the Course of Duty – From one public officer to another


          iii. In Parliament


     g. No blasphemous, seditious, indecent, or illegal material


     h. No Malice *






5. Innocent Publication


     a. Applies only to publisher – The 3rd Party


     b. Exercised reasonable care in relation to publication – Checking facts, etc.


     c. No knowledge of contents of “Sting”, or who they referred to


     d. Nothing about the publication looks like a “Sting” on the surface


     e. Must make an Offer of Amends – Publish a sufficient apology, Retract all defamatory material, Inform all distributors about the error


     f. No Malice *






6. Innocent Dissemination


     a. Applies to all who “assisted” in publication of a “sting” – Distributors


     b. Exercised reasonable care in relation to distribution of publication


     c. No knowledge of contents of “Sting”, or who they referred to


     d. Nothing about the publication looks like a “Sting” on the surface


     e. No Malice *






7. Consent


     a. Plaintiff gave Defendant permission to publish the “Sting”


     b. Defendant must prove this took place – Written consent, on video or audio, photo, etc.






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