Defamation Suits – Sword or Shield?
Defamation Suits are on the rise in Australia.
In fact they are proliferating, and are often being used as a weapon to remove offensive online material.
It’s not just rich people suing Media and Media personalities.
Those disputes account for about 30% of all defamation suits being filed each year.
No the proliferation is the common man or woman suing the common man or woman.
According to Judge Judith Gibson who manages the NSW District Court’s defamation list defamation law is being increasingly used as a weapon by citizens against their follow citizen.
Often such suits are being filed to try and silence a former spouse or a neighbour or some other perceived foe.
Defamation suits are increasingly being brought to stop alleged defamatory content being published online on social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram.
She points to a high level of defiance by those publishing online, refusing to obey court orders to remove the content.
The Judge said it as the “new vogue” to sue online publishers for defamation.
Defamation law is complex and a specialist area. Even so, many defamation complainants are going to court legally unrepresented. That is not only a recipe for disaster but it places a huge extra load on the court system.
The starting point every time is to get early competent legal advice before rushing off to court.
Modern defamation law requires complainants, as a first recourse, to try and exact an undertaking from the offender to remove the offending publication and to make a suitable public apology.
Damages are also capped in most jurisdictions.