Receiving a solicitor’s letter that threatens to sue you for defamation is extremely intimidating. Such threats are sometimes made to people and organisations that have commented on matters of political or public interest. Many of the defences discussed in this chapter apply to such comments.
It is important that you respond quickly after receiving such a letter. Section 40 of the Defamation Act 2005 (Vic) (‘Defamation Act’) contains significant cost penalties for defendants who unreasonably fail to make a settlement offer.
A defendant who has made an early offer in accordance with the legislation may rely on the offer as a defence to any action brought against them (s 18(1) Defamation Act).
Free legal advice can be obtained from a community legal centre; see Chapter 2.4: Legal services that can help.