Australian Law reform and Defamation
Defamation laws exist to protect individuals and their reputation. A person??™s reputation defines how people treat them and their aspect of life. The law exist to protect society from harm and gives us the ability to live in a safe and fair place. For the past 150 Years, the Australian Government has ignored the fact that the current Defamation laws are not satisfactory to be able to function in our legal system. The ALRC fought for the past 150 years for the government to acknowledge the Uniform Defamation laws. The old Defamation laws lack consistency and it did not protect victims of Defamation. Examples are: The following are examples of defamation:
* An imputation which may tend to cause a person to be hated or despised, or cause them to be treated with contempt by their peers;
* The publication of material that renders a person to ridicule, even if involving humour. The publication of a photograph that contained an optical illusion giving the appearance that someone was guilty of indecent exposure is defamatory;
* Certain caricatures have been held to be defamatory. Determining what is defamatory is notoriously difficult in these matters. The distinction between artistic freedom and defamation will no doubt remain the subject of litigation.”
For a defamation action to be successful, it must be established that the communication:
* Was published to a third person, i.e. to at least one person other than the plaintiff (person/entity defamed).
* Identifies the plaintiff, for example, by name or by a reference to a small group of people, etc.
* Contains a defamatory statement or imputation (whether intentionally published or not).
* As of the 1st of January 2006, the ALRC was able to give defamation laws uniformity and consistency. The new defamation laws acknowledge defamation on the internet and established a better means of dealing with defamation. “preventing corporations (other than non-for-profit organisations or small businesses) from suing for defamation, addressing current community concerns that large companies could stifle legitimate public debate by beginning defamation action;
* establishing a defence of “truth” to replace the previous defence of “truth and public benefit”;
* reducing the time limit for bringing a defamation action from six years to one year (or three years if the court is satisfied an action could not have been brought within one year);
* abolishing the awarding of exemplary and punitive damages in civil defamation proceedings; and
* limiting juries to determining whether a person has been defamed, leaving the awarding of damages to judges.”