Are you in need of a defamation lawyer in Sydney or elsewhere in Australia? O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors are one of Sydney’s leading defamation law firms. If you believe that your reputation or character has been damaged by false allegation or untrue statements, then you may have an action to sue for defamation.
What is defamation?
Defamation is where someone’s reputation is damaged by false statements, either spoken (slander) or written (libel) by another person, entity or organization, such as a newspaper or other media outlet, or even government, where those false or unsubstantiated statements are communicated to one or more third parties.
Defamatory communication is communication that is likely to damage your reputation by:
- exposing you to shame, ridicule, hatred or contempt, or
- lowers others’ estimation of you or
- means you are avoided or shunned.
Defamation Law in NSW
Currently, the law in NSW regarding defamation is set out in the Defamation Act 2005, and it no longer specifies a difference between defamatory content which is libellous (in writing or other permanent format, such as images or videos) or slanderous (verbally spoken or otherwise transient). This means that a person can initiate legal proceedings against someone who has made defamatory statements that are either spoken or in writing.
What constitutes defamation?
You do not have a claim for defamation simply because you do not like something that someone has said about you even if it is untrue. Several factors need to be considered:
- What were the exact words that were said and/or published?
- How widely disseminated was the statement?
- A private message in a group chat, for example, is not defamatory as it has not been made public.
- How much, if any, damage have you suffered?
- You must have suffered some sort of harm. Feeling upset or offended by a statement is insufficient for a defamation claim.
- Examples of possible damage might include damage to your public image or reputation.
- You might also have suffered financial damage as a result of job loss etc. which was a direct result of the defamatory content.
Who can I sue for defamation?
There are many possible parties that could be sued in a defamation case. They can include the:
- original author or
- person quoted or interviewed,
- TV / radio or other broadcast media, or
- web site owners or social media channels.
Even if you have been vilified by defamatory statements by an individual on social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, you may have recourse to sue for damages. This will depend on the circumstances of your situation as indicated by the factors mentioned above.
O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors have successfully sued for defamation on behalf of many clients, resulting in substantial cash settlements if the defendant chooses not to fight the case, or if we do end up going to court, establishing damages and liability leading to equally substantial awards of money.
What can I receive if my defamation claim is successful?
Firstly, you may be able to resolve your dispute without going to court. In this instance the publisher of the defamatory statement may offer to:
- make amendments to the publication, or
- make an apology.
However if you decide to initiate legal proceedings against the statement maker and are successful, you may receive:
- compensation for non-economic loss suffered,
- compensation for economic loss suffered, and
- payment of legal costs.
What are the defences to a defamation claim?
The person to whom you are making a defamation claim against may be able to use one of the following defences:
- truth and justification,
- publication of public documents,
- absolute privilege,
- innocent dissemination,
- in the public interest, or
- reasonable offer to make amends.
Defamation Time Limits
There is a strict time limit of one year from the publication of defamatory content until the time you sue the defendant. If you believe that you have been defamed, contact our lawyers without hesitation to determine if you have a valid claim as a plaintiff.
In many cases, the matter can be resolved by having us sending a cease and desist letter to the publisher or communicator of the defamatory material.
We can negotiate with the publisher of any defamatory material before taking any court action, as there can be serious implications if you start defamation proceedings after refusing what the court may consider as a reasonable offer to settle the matter.
No Win, No Fee
We can run these defamation cases on a no win, no fee basis (bar a small initial fee to cover filing costs). In the event of defamation proceedings that succeed, the defendant will be ordered to pay the legal costs of the defamed person in addition to any damages awarded.
See our article on defamation lawyers here, where we successfully sued on behalf of a person with little financial resources to sustain a case. We won the biggest ever defamation amount ever awarded in the Northern Territory court system.
Have you received a Cease and Desist request letter?
If you have been accused of defamation, we do, and have, acted for the defendant. Although in such cases we act for the defendant on a retainer, not no win no fee. However, in many situations, if you receive a cease and desist letter, a remedy is found in merely removing the offending material.
Contact O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors on (02) 9261 4281 to set up a free appointment with the defence lawyers in our Sydney office. 24 hour phone / text: 0421 373 961