The law of defamation is concerned with the protection of reputation within a society that has traditionally placed a high value on freedom of expression. In Australia, similar to many parts in the world, there is a federal framework of laws that deals with defamation. The legislation provides a remedy for injury to reputation caused by defamatory publication. This remedy previously existed in the slightly differing laws in all Australian jurisdictions, which provided a remedy in damages for the publication of a disparaging statement about a plaintiff, that is, a statement likely to cause the ordinary, reasonable member of the community to think less of the plaintiff or to shun and avoid them. Consultation with a specialised Defamation Lawyer could be greatly beneficial if you are involved in a Defamation matter.
A requirement in a suit for defamation is the communication of the defamatory meaning to a person other than the plaintiff. The meaning may be communicated by any means such as spoken words, signs or gestures, in writing or with images, in person or by broadcast. The act of communication of the defamatory meaning is known as “publication”. The word has a technical meaning and is not limited to newspaper or periodical publications as it tends to be in ordinary speech. A work, a wink or a nod may constitute publication- essentially what is required is that meaning was conveyed to another person. Thorough and detailed legal advice from a Defamation Lawyer can assist you in understanding the complexities and nuances in Defamation Law.
The distinction between defamatory communication in written and spoken form has now been abolished. Libel is written defamatory communication, whilst slander is oral defamatory communication. Common law made a distinction between defamatory matter in a transient form — slander — and in a permanent form — libel. The most significant difference at common law between the two categories of publications was that slander, with some exceptions, was not actionable without proof of special damages. Television and radio broadcasts, however, had long been deemed to be publication in a permanent form, such that communication of defamatory matter by broadcast was a libel. Many of the old authorities on slander are, however, still relevant to questions that arise in cases of oral defamation. The essential question is really whether the publication constitutes an actionable defamation, that is, a defamatory publication which is not lawful. After all, while the law of defamation can act as a powerful brake on the freedom of expression, it is not designed to deprive the public of information on matters of public importance. Being properly advised by a Defamation Lawyer would potentially be necessary when you are facing a claim for defamation.
There are various defences available to an action in defamation. They are the defence of justification, absolute privilege, honest opinion, qualified privilege, an offer of amends, illegality and triviality. An experienced Defamation Lawyer may be able advise you on the various avenues potentially available to you and assist you in resolving disputes and litigation relating to defamation.
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