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Defamation Law Essay

August 17th, 2009 No comments

Defamation law is our legal system’s attempt to reconcile the mutually incompatible interests of freedom of speech and protection of reputation. In the modern” information age”, a third interest must also be recognised – that of the public receiving accurate information from the mass media. This seems like a relatively straightforward concept. In reality, the application and interaction of Australian defamation law only unleashes a barrage of complex questions. This can be emphasised through an analysis of the John Marsden defamation case.

In theory the law of defamation does have an honourable purpose. There has been much discussion about the intention of defamation law and its underlying aims and objectives. The matter has been put to rest by the High Court describing three purposes of granting damages in a claim of defamation: “ The three purposes are consolation for the personal distress and hurt caused to the appellant by the publication, reparation for the harm done to the appellant’s personal (if relevant) business reputation, and vindication of the appellant’s reputation.” However, in practice Australia’s defamation laws do not function well. In fact, it has been claimed that “ its main effect is to hinder free speech and protect powerful people from scrutiny (Martin, 1998, p 107). Read more…