Can mental illness be a defence to a Defamation action?

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TonyDJ

Active Member
30 December 2020
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Hi people.
Firstly; thanks very much for taking the time to answer questions on this forum and for giving your opinions to these questions. It's incredibly helpful to all I'm sure.

My question is in regards to this.
I'm about to bring a civil case of defamation against a person who has falsely accused me of armed r**e and of drug dealing while I was at work with her. She made wild claims that these events went on for a period of eight months and that I would bring a handgun and knife to work in our busy real estate office and threaten to kill her and other terrible things. A short police enquiry found no evidence, a private investigator commissioned by my work, found no evidence. There as no medical evidence. Nothing at all. I was never charged by police and nothing happened after the first encounter with them, but the woman held her complaint against me for 5 months and I lost my job and it's cost me a good pile of money protecting myself from them and from her. The police said that she was obviously suffering from a mental breakdown when they initially interviewed her, and indeed, her complaint to them was made at hospital as she was apparently in distress.

It's nearly a year later and I want to take her to civil court for defamation as I've allowed her 10 months to come to me and apologise and make amends by offering a statement to work and to the police that I was completely innocent. (I'm aware that I need to lodge within a year) It's not relevant to this question perhaps, but I had, until the police turned up to question me, no idea that anything was wrong and I thought she was one of my closest work friends. We were as far as I knew, very good friends and we seemed to enjoy working together.

  1. Can she claim a defence of mental illness as a defence to the defamation claim I am bringing? She probably had a doctor consult with her at the time. I have no idea if she is still suffering of whether the possible breakdown lasted a day a week or a year.
  2. Can she make that same claim of defence against Criminal defamation (CRIMINAL CODE 1899 - SECT 365 ) if I can talk the police into pursuing that charge against her?
Thanks so much,
 

Rod

Lawyer
LawTap Verified
27 May 2014
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1. No, unless she had no legal capacity at the time which is unlikely.
2. Possibly, but unlikely.
 

TonyDJ

Active Member
30 December 2020
9
0
31
Hi people.
Firstly; thanks very much for taking the time to answer questions on this forum and for giving your opinions to these questions. It's incredibly helpful to all I'm sure.

My question is in regards to this.
I'm about to bring a civil case of defamation against a person who has falsely accused me of armed r**e and of drug dealing while I was at work with her. She made wild claims that these events went on for a period of eight months and that I would bring a handgun and knife to work in our busy real estate office and threaten to kill her and other terrible things. A short police enquiry found no evidence, a private investigator commissioned by my work, found no evidence. There as no medical evidence. Nothing at all. I was never charged by police and nothing happened after the first encounter with them, but the woman held her complaint against me for 5 months and I lost my job and it's cost me a good pile of money protecting myself from them and from her. The police said that she was obviously suffering from a mental breakdown when they initially interviewed her, and indeed, her complaint to them was made at hospital as she was apparently in distress.

It's nearly a year later and I want to take her to civil court for defamation as I've allowed her 10 months to come to me and apologise and make amends by offering a statement to work and to the police that I was completely innocent. (I'm aware that I need to lodge within a year) It's not relevant to this question perhaps, but I had, until the police turned up to question me, no idea that anything was wrong and I thought she was one of my closest work friends. We were as far as I knew, very good friends and we seemed to enjoy working together.

  1. Can she claim a defence of mental illness as a defence to the defamation claim I am bringing? She probably had a doctor consult with her at the time. I have no idea if she is still suffering of whether the possible breakdown lasted a day a week or a year.
  2. Can she make that same claim of defence against Criminal defamation (CRIMINAL CODE 1899 - SECT 365 ) if I can talk the police into pursuing that charge against her?
Thanks so much,
Thanks so much Rod, much appreciated