Two types of monetary A court order for money to be paid to someone to compensate them for a loss suffered as a result of a civil wrong or breach of contract. For example, a person who caused a serious permanent injury to another person can be ordered by the court to pay damages that compensate the injured person for their loss of income from being unable to work. See also aggravated damages; compensatory damages; general damages; liquidated damages; nominal damages; special damages. are available for a A person who begins a civil action against another person. (i.e. the person who claims to have been defamed) in To damage another person’s reputation by publishing or communicating false statements about them. The old common law distinction between libel (written and published defamation) and slander (spoken defamation) no longer has any legal significance. cases.
- General Payment of money to a successful party, ordered by a court in a civil case; the ordinary damages that make up for the harm that resulted from the actions of the losing party. For example, if a defamation claim is successful, damages must be paid by the defendant to compensate the person whose reputation they have harmed. See also aggravated damages. are intended to compensate the plaintiff for damage to their reputation. In the case of a person (but not a company), compensatory damages include compensation for hurt feelings. The Defamation A written law made by parliament. Also called an ‘Act of parliament’, ‘statute’ or legislation. imposes a limit on general compensatory damages of $355 500 for each An independent body that hears legal claims brought by parties and decides between them. Serious cases are heard by a judge and jury, or just a judge. Less-serious cases are heard by a magistrate. proceeding.
- Aggravated compensatory damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff when the A person who has been charged with a criminal offence or against whom a civil action has been brought. has acted in an improper or unjustified way, and this has increased the injury to the plaintiff’s reputation or feelings. Examples of improper/unjustified actions include failing to check the truth of Relevant or important. For example, material evidence is something that helps to prove an argument in a criminal case. before publishing it, refusing to apologise, and repeating the defamatory statement after the plaintiff has complained.
A court order that a wrongdoer pay the victim a larger amount of damages than would be needed just to compensate them for their loss. Its purpose is to punish the wrongdoer and make an example of them. See also general damages; special damages. (i.e. damages designed to punish the defendant rather than compensate the plaintiff) cannot be awarded to plaintiffs in cases to which the Defamation Act applies.
Damages can be mitigated (reduced or kept to a minimum) by the defendant apologising or publishing a correction before the case goes to court. A defendant may also use a plaintiff’s bad reputation in the community to try to mitigate the damages awarded against them. However, this has strict limitations. The Claimed but not proved. For example, the police can allege in court that a car was stolen, but they then have to prove it with evidence. If you say a person did something illegal you are making an allegation. Unless you can back it up, you will not be able to win a court case about it. ‘bad reputation’ must be in the same sphere or zone of reputation as the imputations complained of by the plaintiff. For example, if a plaintiff complains that the imputation is one of dishonesty, the plaintiff’s reputation as a bad driver is not in the same sphere.
In addition, examples of specific bad acts committed by the plaintiff are not sufficient Material presented to a court to prove or disprove a fact. It can include what witnesses say as well as documents and other objects. of the plaintiff having a bad reputation. Rather, the defendant’s case must include evidence from witnesses who can say what the plaintiff’s reputation is in the community. It is the plaintiff’s reputation (not their specific prior conduct) that is in question. One of the limited exceptions to this rule is evidence of prior criminal convictions – which may be relied on by a defendant on the basis that a person’s criminal record forms the building blocks of their reputation.
Court orders to prevent publication
Often, a person who believes they have been defamed A document that sets out what a person wants to happen to their money and other property after they die. threaten to seek a court A court order that directs a person to do, or not to do, something. For example, a court can order a developer not to demolish a historic building. An injunction may be interim (operative until further order) or perpetual (continuing indefinitely). forbidding the publication, or continued publication, of the offending statement (prior to the final The time and place at which a court or tribunal hears the parties argue their case and makes a decision. of a legal action for defamation). Such injunctions are very rarely granted if the defendant claims the statement is true or that there is another good (1) A defendant’s response to the legal claims made against them in court by a prosecutor or plaintiff. (2) A lawful excuse for conduct: for example, causing minor injuries to someone while saving them from certain death. (3) ‘The defence’ is also a way of referring to the defendant and their legal team.. To grant an injunction, a court needs to be convinced that the defendant has no realistic prospect of success. This reflects the importance the courts place on free speech.