Timely new edition on Australian defamation law by senior partner of Kennedys’ Sydney office

Date published




At a time when defamation laws are in the spotlight in Australia, Kennedys partner Patrick George has authored a new edition of the leading text on the subject: Defamation Law in Australia.

Defamation Law in Australia (3rd ed), published by LexisNexis, has been revised to reflect changes in legislation and developments in case law. It analyses major decisions relating to publication on the internet, and the defences of truth and contextual truth.

This latest edition also provides tables of damages awards dissected by jurisdiction, media and social media before the game-changing award in Rebel Wilson’s case against Bauer Media.

Additionally, it closely considers the case for reforming the Uniform Defamation Act 2005, which has been in operation throughout Australia for over ten years. It deals with the issues that media and journalists face in practice and addresses the latest developments in relation to invasion of privacy, and explores topical issues such as the abuse of social media and disclosure of confidential sources.

Rebel Wilson’s stunning victory and record damages award will increase the stakes for all publishers, traditional and social. Social media has transformed the media landscape, liberating many to speak freely and without the relative restraint exercised by ‘traditional media’, where journalists are bound by principles of ethics and public interest to act truthfully and fairly.

With the benefit of time and the wisdom of hindsight, the Uniform Defamation Act can and should be amended to adjust the rights between those who publish and those who are defamed. The law has been challenged to provide meaningful protection of reputation from defamatory, vicious and abusive material, often published anonymously and across jurisdictions.

Patrick George, Partner, Sydney

The Uniform Defamation Act is reproduced as an Appendix to the text together with a comparative table of defamation statutes, contrasting previous legislation in each State and Territory with the uniform Act, and includes relevant Court Procedural Rules and Practice Notes for the Defamation List in the NSW Supreme Court and District Court.

In her Foreword to the book, one of the leading judges in the defamation arena, the Honourable Justice Ruth McColl AO of the New South Wales Court of Appeal, describes Defamation Law in Australia (3rd ed) as “an invaluable reference work for all concerned in this area of law”.

Patrick George added: “Defamation law strikes a fine balance between protecting a person’s reputation and freedom of speech but ultimately simplicity and affordability should be the essential objectives in this area of law.”

Defamation Law in Australia (3rd ed) is available from LexisNexis.