Category Archives: Defamation

Hustler Magazine v Falwell 485 US 46 (1988) | 23 FEBRUARY 1988

ON THIS DAY IN 1988, the US Supreme Court delivered Hustler Magazine v Falwell 485 US 46 (1988).

https://supreme.justia.com/us/485/46/case.html

Per Rehnquist CJ at 485:

‘We conclude that public figures and public officials may not recover for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress by reason of publications such as the one here at issue without showing, in addition, that the publication contains a false statement of fact which was made with “actual malice,” i.e., with knowledge that the statement was false or with reckless disregard as to whether or not it was true.’

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Rogers v Nationwide News Pty Ltd [2003] HCA 52 | 11 September 2003

ON 11 SEPTEMBER 2003, the High Court of Australia delivered Rogers v Nationwide News Pty Ltd [2003] HCA 52; 216 CLR 327; 201 ALR 184; 77 ALJR 1739 (11 September 2003).

The Daily Telegraph had reported on a 1996 Federal Court decision of Justice Hill regarding a tax assessment of the interest component of a 1990 damages award by the NSW Supreme Court in the amount of $808,564.38 to Maree Lynette Whitaker in her action against eye surgeon Dr Christopher Rogers.

Appeals against the 1990 decision were dismissed by the NSW Court of Appeal and High Court of Australia. The High Court decision of Rogers v Whitaker [1992] HCA 58; (1992) 175 CLR 479 (19 November 1992) is a well known decision regarding negligence arising from failure to warn of inherent but remote risks as opposed to negligence in the recommendation of the procedure or the manner in which the procedure is performed. Dr Rogers had performed surgery on Whitaker’s right eye, which was almost blind. The surgery should have restored her sight, but instead became blind in the left eye when she suffered sympathetic opthalmia. Whilst the risk was remote, Dr Rogers was held to be negligent in failing to warn Whitaker of the risk.

In reporting on the 1996 decision, the Daily Telegraph referred to Ms Whitaker as being blinded by Dr Roger’s negligence, imputing that he had been negligent in the performance of the surgery.

The High Court in Rogers v Nationwide News Pty Ltd held that the Daily Telegraph’s reference to the decision of Rogers v Whitaker was not a fair report of court proceedings and had defamed Dr Rogers by adding to what was said by Justice HIll. The court held that the story was not entitled to the defence of qualified privilege.

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Dank v Cronulla Sutherland District Rugby League Football Club Ltd

ON 28 AUGUST 2014, the NSW Court of Appeal dismissed a summons for leave to appeal by Stephen Dank against orders of the Supreme Court of NSW to dismiss his defamation claims against two of six defendants (the Cronulla Sharks club and their chairman) and struck out his claim against a journalist.

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Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (“Political Free Speech case”) [1997] HCA 25 | 8 July 1997

ON 8 JULY 1997, the High Court of Australia delivered Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (“Political Free Speech case”) [1997] HCA 25; (1997) 189 CLR 520; (1997) 145 ALR 96; (1997) 71 ALJR 818 (8 July 1997).

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1997/25.html

The court re-examined it’s earlier decisions of Stephens v West Australian Newspapers Ltd [1994] HCA 45; (1994) 182 CLR 211; (1994) 124 ALR 80 (1994) Aust Torts Reports 81-298 (12 October 1994) http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1994/45.html and Theophanous v Herald & Weekly Times Ltd [1994] HCA 46; (1994) 182 CLR 104; (1994) 124 ALR 1 (1994) Aust Torts Reports 81-297 (12 October 1994) http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1994/46.html.

Implied from the text and structure of the Constitution is a freedom of communication between the public concerning government or political matters. The freedom  restricts legislative and executive powers but does not confer individual rights and freedoms. Accordingly, there is no constitutional freedom of communication defence to a defamation action as had been previously held in Stephens and Theophanous. However, the common law provides a defence of qualified privilege to defamation actions involving government or political matters provided that the comment is reasonable and not malicious.

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Marsden v Amalgamated Television Services Pty Ltd [2001] NSWSC 510 | 27 June 2001

ON 27 JUNE 2001, the Supreme Court of NSW delivered Marsden v Amalgamated Television Services Pty Ltd [2001] NSWSC 510.

http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/scjudgments/2001nswsc.nsf/00000000000000000000000000000000/1d02bf783776f483ca256a790016cb6f?opendocument

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McDonald’s Corporation v Steel & Morris (“McLibel case”) | 19 June 1997

ON 19 JUNE 1997, the English High Court delivered McDonald’s Corporation v Steel & Morris [1997] EWHC QB 366.

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/1997/366.html

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Carson v John Fairfax & Sons Ltd & Slee [1993] HCA 31

ON 16 JUNE 1993, the High Court of Australia delivered Carson v John Fairfax & Sons Ltd & Slee [1993] HCA 31; (1993) 178 CLR 44 (16 June 1993).

The court held that an award of damages for defamation is for three purposes: (1) consolation for personal distress brought on by the publication (2) reparation for harm done to personal and/or professional reputation and (3) vindication of reputation.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1993/31.html

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