You web browser may not be properly supported. To use this site and all its features we recommend using the latest versions of Chrome, Safari or Firefox

Social Digital

Everyone has the right to have their reputation protected. If your reputation has been harmed by defamatory comments or publications, then you should promptly seek legal advice.

Although there is no strict definition of what can and cannot be considered defamatory, in summary, a publication will be capable of conveying defamatory meanings if the words spoken or published harm someone’s reputation by exposing them to hatred, contempt, or ridicule.

A defamatory publication can be spoken or broadcast words, written words, or a symbol or gesture.

Claims alleging defamation can be brought by private individuals, incorporated associations and in some instances, companies or corporate entities.

Can a company be defamed?

A corporation may bring a claim for defamation in Australia, if either:

  • the objects for which the company has been formed do not include obtaining financial gain for its members (e.g. a not-for-profit organisation); or
  • the company has less than 10 full time equivalent employees.

A director or officer of a company may also have a claim for defamation if the publication which allegedly carries the defamatory imputations identifies those employees with sufficient certainty.

However, if a company has more than 10 full time equivalent employees and wishes to bring a complaint relating to the publication of false information, the tort of injurious falsehood may be a cause of action available for the company to seek relief.

Cross border defamation and Australia

Online communication takes place almost instantaneously across multiple jurisdictions. Emails and Facebook posts can be authored from anywhere in the world, with many social platforms hosted online in the USA.

From an Australian perspective, this raises significant issues for a person or company who wishes to protect their reputation with the assistance of the Courts. Specifically, when does an Australian Court have jurisdiction to hear claims involving the exchange of international defamatory material?

This type of case may be determined by an Australian Court, if the publication is accessed and read in Australia. This type of case is however not a settled proposition.

Online media and defamation

The landscape of where a publication can occur is changing rapidly, and it’s no surprise that we’re going to see more defamation claims arise from defamatory posts online.

Read more on our blog – 5 things to know about social media defamation.

Time limits for commencing defamation proceedings in Australia

There are strict limitations for bringing a claim for defamation. You must commence an action for defamation within one year of the date of publication. This time frame may only be extended in very limited circumstances.

The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.

Thank you for your feedback.

Related blog posts

Consumer and the Law
Liar loans: how mortgage brokers are putting clients at risk

The term ‘liar loans’ has been coined on the back of the Banking Royal Commission. This is because studies have shown almost 40 per cent of loan applications completed through mortgage brokers contained at least one factually incorrect statement. Whether mortgage brokers are providing lenders with incorrect information, or information that is out-of-date, they are putting themselves – and their clients – at risk. A recent study conducted by the Consumer Credit Legal Centre in New South Wales identified some mortgage brokers were breaking the law when filling out loan applications for their clients. Common examples included brokers suggesting their clients provide a different answer...

Planning desk close up documentresize
Consumer and the Law
How to lodge a complaint with Australian Financial Complaints Authority

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) acts as the middleperson between financial firms and consumers or small businesses, offering free and independent dispute resolution services. It deals with complaints about financial advice, insurance, banking and superannuation products and services. While the time limit to lodge a complaint to AFCA is usually between two and six years, the Australian Government recently created the opportunity for those with complaints up to 10 years old to come forward. This means consumers and small businesses have until 30 June 2020 to lodge complaints dating back to 1 January 2008. To lodge a complaint, you must follow AFCA’s process. It is...

How to lodge a complaint with Australian Financial Complaints Authority
Business Law
Proposed Changes to the Franchising Code of Conduct

Franchising is big business in Australia, with approximately 1,120 franchise systems and 79,000 franchise units operating nationally1. As franchising is a diverse sector with characteristics that are unique from other business models, franchises are governed by a mandatory Franchising Code of Conduct (Franchising Code).2 The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services recently completed an inquiry into the operation and effectiveness of the Franchising Code and has released the Fairness in Franchising Report (Report).3 Some of the key findings and recommendations of the report are discussed below. The Committee recommends that the Australian Government establish an...

Waitress In Black Apron Upload

We're here to help

Start your online claim check now. Or, if you have a question, get in touch with our team.