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NSW Possible Defamation?

Discussion in 'Defamation Law Forum' started by Ladyneumann, 11 April 2015.

  1. Ladyneumann

    Ladyneumann Member

    11 April 2015
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    This is a matter that is affecting my husband. Just to give a little bit of history; he has a dysfunctional family (his parents have been separated for almost 15 years) and just over ten years ago he decided to distance himself from his mother and twin sister. In the past 4 years (since I have met him), we have been to visit his mother a few times because I wanted to meet her and I thought it would be good for him to spend some time with her. His twin sister (31 years old) still lives with their mother and on one occasion while we we visiting, she became very verbally abusive towards the both of us but other than that we've had no contact with her.

    Recently, we found out from another family member that my husband's mother is in hospital (it seems that it will be a long stay). My husband wants to send her a card, flowers etc. However, we are pretty sure that if we send it directly, his sister will most likely intercept it and dispose of it. Thus, my husband sent the hospital an email to ask them how we could send something privately. He was very clear that he did not want his sister to know that he had been in contact. However, we have found out that the hospital did disclose the information to his sister.

    My husband then rang the hospital to complain about the matter. He was passed around to several people and happened to hear along the way that his sister had told the hospital that he was not to be allowed to visit as he is physically abusive and that she would get a restraining order against him if he did come to the hospital.

    We are not sure how to proceed from here. Would this be classed as defamation of character?
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Guest

    Hi Ladyneumann,

    To establish a defamation action you need to show that:
    (1) A statement was made by your sister in law to a third person or numerous people which appears to have happened.
    (2) the statement identified your husband as the subject of the statement.
    (3) And that the statement was "defamatory" - this means that it has the potential to injure your reputation, expose you to ridicule, contempt or hate, cause other people to shun, avoid or think less of you or lower you in the estimation of others.

    On the basis of what you have described it sounds as though you may be able to satisfy these elements. I would speak with a lawyer about it so you can get proper advice based on all the facts and circumstances.
    ClareB likes this.
  3. ClareB

    ClareB Well-Known Member

    4 February 2015
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    I agree with Sophea and also add that, there is a time limit in lodging a claim for defamation in NSW of 12 months following the incident/publication. Therefore, if you do choose to pursue a claim, do not delay in seeking advice from a solicitor.
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  4. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

    10 February 2015
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    Hi there,

    It is important to remember that any legal claim, whether it goes to a court hearing or not, is costly in time and money. Therefore it is important to clarify from the outset what your husband's ideal outcome is. If your husband feels embarrassed due to the inflammatory and wrongful nature of the comments, maybe it is best to speak with someone in management at the hospital and see what consequences his sister's comments have had and whether he will be welcome to visit.

    Secondly, whilst the elements of a defamation claim have been correctly stated, the remedy for that claim depends on the damage caused. This can be difficult to prove and the costs of a legal action can be greater than the remedy. I suggest that your husband's response to this situation should consider what effect the comments have had before deciding on a course of action.
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