The statutory defences to defamation

What are the most common defences to defamation?

The statutory defences that exist under the Defamation Act 2005 (Qld) (the “Act“) co-exist with the common law defences (and in fact, in many ways, overlap with one another). Nonetheless, the Act is clear in preserving any defences available under the common law or in equity. The defences available to a defendant under the Act are:

  • “Justification” (s 25 of the Act)
  • “Contextual Truth” (s 26 of the Act)
  • “Absolute Privilege” (s 27 of the Act)
  • “Publication of Public Documents” (s 28 of the Act)
  • “Fair Report of Proceedings of Public Concern” (s 29 of the Act)
  • “Qualified Privilege” (s 30 of the Act)
  • “Honest Opinion” (s 31 of the Act)
  • “Innocent Dissemination” (s 32 of the Act)
  • “Triviality” (s 33 of the Act)

In general, if the intricacies of each, or the relevant, statutory defence can be proved by the defendant, then the defence, or defences, under the Act will operate to exclude liability for “the publication of defamatory matter” (that is, will operate to provide a complete or affirmative defence to the defendant).

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