Defamation

A defamation case arises when a person or organisation believes their reputation has been damaged by a statement or publication and they take legal action against the person responsible - known as "suing for defamation". The material may be online defamation of character like publications on websites or social media, more traditional forms of media including news reports and newspapers or even defamation by email or group chat messages.

Suing for defamation can be a lengthy and costly process. By engaging specialised defamation lawyers early, you can successfully resolve matters before proceedings commence, saving you time, money and protecting your reputation and wellbeing.

A defamation lawyer can assist in addressing and mitigating the risks of potential publications. Ensuring you can convey information without undue risk of defamation claims being brought against you. Also, your defamation lawyer will provide advice and recommendations to ensure you can quickly, and appropriately, respond to publications that have improperly damaged your reputation.

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What is Defamation?

Defamation is the publication of material that causes the ordinary reasonable reader, viewer or listener to lower their opinion of the person in question.

Defamatory material does not need to be in mainstream media publications to be actionable. While the most high-profile defamation claims generally involve things published in newspapers and said on radio or television, defamatory material can be published in blogs, social media posts, emails, cartoons, and online reviews.

Example

  • Defamation of character can occur when a person makes an accusation of impropriety against someone else - by implying they are a thief, a liar, or simply suggesting that they are someone to shun or avoid. Accusations of this type can damage to the person's character.

Defamation law protects Australians from false and damaging statements. The law also provides mechanisms for remedy and award of damages for financial and reputational losses because of defamation of character. Defamation claims have increased in recent years for a range of reasons. One of the most significant reasons is the speed, permanency, and accessibility of online content. Since the advent of Facebook, blogs, and online media, claims for social media defamation have increased significantly. Not all cases go to court, there are plenty of techniques to remove unwanted content - our lawyers have proven ability to manage defamation lawsuits efficiently and cost effectively.

Reputational risk

Defamation claims result from negative statements or publications, and reputational risk is when a gap exists between public perception and actual behaviour. This is not to say people are necessarily acting contrary to the law, but rather, they act in a way that does not align with public expectations. For example, a business or individual acts in such a way that is legal but controversial, like implementing a process that is damaging to the climate or environment, or when an individual or CEO has personally held beliefs mis-aligned to the general public.

Defamation lawyers are risk experts. They advise you and your businesses on potential risk factors and can manage processes where a potential risk to reputation exists, develop crisis management plans and initiate legal processes when necessary, or advise on the potential ramifications of business dealings or public statements.

More about reputational risk

Removing defamatory material

Removing damaging online defamation content, including social media posts, personal blogs, images, and false statements requires specialist legal support. The ranking of these types of posts depends on your digital footprint—the amount of digital publications about you. The less publications the higher these types of things will rank in search engines like Google. But, despite the rank, the material can appear when people search your business or name.

Your defamation lawyer will work with you to remove unwanted materials, corresponding on your behalf to the original author by sending concerns notices or letters of demand, or notifying the secondary publisher or content host, like Facebook, to remove the publication. Or they will work with your business and public relations agencies to supress the negative content with reverse SEO (search engine optimisation). Reverse SEO is creating more content to increase your digital footprint.

Responding to a defamation claim

Just because something you've said is disparaging does not necessarily make a claim actionable. Various defences are available to defamation claims, balancing the importance of protecting reputations against the need for freedom of speech. Of course, your defamation lawyer can help with prepublication advice. We can also make recommendations and formulate a response strategy if you have received a concerns notice. Our support will assist you to say what you need to say without getting sued.

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