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Defamation in Queensland

Defamation in Queensland…

Defamation

Defamation in Queensland is governed by the Defamation Act 2005 (Qld) (the ‘Act’) and common law.

The Act does not define what makes material defamatory, so we need to look at case law to determine this. Generally speaking, material will be defamatory if it could: –

  • injure the reputation of an individual by exposing them to ridicule, contempt or hatred;
  • cause people to shun the individual; or
  • lower the individual’s estimation by right thinking members of society generally.

It is generally possible to defame any natural person and in limited circumstances, a company (see section 9 of the Act) (the ‘aggrieved’).  The purpose of a defamation action is to correct the public’s view of the aggrieved and compensate them for the wrong done.

Defamation Claim

Generally speaking, to establish an action in defamation, the following must be satisfied: –

  1. The material published must be defamatory. It does not matter whether the material was intentionally published or not;
  2. The material is published to a third party (other than the aggrieved). Publication to just one other person is sufficient to prove this element; and
  3. The material must identify the aggrieved. There is no need for the aggrieved to be expressly named. It is enough that the publication is made to persons with knowledge of other facts which would reasonably enable them to identify the aggrieved.

What is considered a publication?

A publication may be defined broadly and can generally be oral, or, words intended to be read including by sign or by touch, or, signs, signals, gestures, or other visible representations.

Time Limitations

Generally speaking, an action on a cause of action for defamation must not be brought after the end of 1 year from the date of the publication of the matter complained of.

Defences to Defamation claims

The Act sets out possible defences that may be raised in an action for defamation including: –

  • justification: section 25 of the Act;
  • contextual truth: section 26 of the Act;
  • absolute privilege: section 27 of the Act;
  • public documents: Section 28 of the Act;
  • fair report of proceedings of public concern: Section 29 of the Act;
  • qualified privilege: section 30 of the Act;
  • honest opinion: section 31 of the Act; and
  • innocent dissemination: section 32 of the Act.

Next Steps

If you believe that you have been defamed or have received notice from someone else alleging that you have defamed them or otherwise, need legal advice about this topic, contact us at Klein Legal today.

This is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.

If you or someone you know would like more information or needs help or advice about this topic, please contact us on (07) 5458 6855 or email mklein@kleinlegal.com.au.