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Who Can Sue for Defamation?

Discussion in 'Defamation Law Forum' started by Peter6, 22 June 2015.

  1. Peter6

    Peter6 Well-Known Member

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    Who can sue for defamation?
    Under the Defamation Act 2005, the following can be a plaintiff:

    • A person; or
    • A corporation (that is not a public entity), if it is either:
      • a not for profit organisation; or
      • it employs fewer than 10 people and is not related to another corporation.
    A corporation that does not fit within the point above cannot sue for defamation under the Defamation Act 2005. This limitation was introduced in response to community concern that large corporations were able to use a threat of defamation to suppress legitimate public criticism and debate.

    Does this mean that a company which employs more than 10 people can not sue for defamation when publicly criticize its behavior?
     
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Yes that's true. But if you are the director/owner of the company and you are defamed as an individual - then you can bring an action as an individual.

    Its to preserve the rights of consumers to review products and services from large corporations.
     
    Sarah J likes this.
  3. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    Is this a situation where your employer has had a problem
    with something you have said on, say, Facebook,
    and is threatening you with a defamation action?
     
  4. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Might I just add that it is 10 full-time employees, or 20 part-time employees (or appropriate fraction depending on the proportion of hours they work to that of a full-time employee).

    But otherwise, I agree with what Sophea as written above. It is to prevent, for example: suppressing a food critic from publishing a negative food review against a "top tier" restaurant (real case).
     
  5. Peter6

    Peter6 Well-Known Member

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    It is a dispute between a company (a big company) and myself on my intellectual property. I did not signed a non-disclosure agreement before providing my solutions to the company and it is quite easy to undertake reverse engineering to find out the a lot of IP stuff from it (you can not get it from public domain). The company tries to use "defamation" to threaten me not to talk about this dispute or that the company and I had gone through a almost year long to verify my solutions for potential commercialization. and same time, it tries to say my solutions never work (it is not true refer to "Is this defamation".
     
  6. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    On what basis were you producing IP (I presume, code, which is a literary work)
    for a "big company"?
    Were you an employee?
     
  7. Peter6

    Peter6 Well-Known Member

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    A new way to configure a thing (no one do it before). and also how it is decided
     
  8. Peter6

    Peter6 Well-Known Member

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    I am not its employee. i cannot mention the field, it is a very small field.
     
  9. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hi Peter6,

    Without knowing much of the specifics, it is hard to help you (and I'm not suggesting you reveal any information that you are not comfortable revealing, or anything that is personal or able to identify yourself on this public domain). Which means, our responses may not apply to your case.

    However, if you created intellectual property, whilst not under employment (e.g. contract work or consulting position), the right to this IP generally vests with the creator. There may be an issue of IP infringement. It is best to speak with an IP lawyer about this more specifically to see what you can prove, whether you signed any contracts or did anything that could imply transfer of ownership.

    As you already know, a large company cannot sue for defamation in the name of the company. However, an individual or group of individuals can personally sue for defamation if your conduct allegedly damaged their reputation (not the company's). If this does happen, you need to figure out exactly what the alleged defining action/statement is. I'm assuming it has something to do with you alleging the company stole your IP or not giving you full credit. If so, speak with an IP lawyer about this and see if you have any merit to your claims. If so, you likely have the defence of truth or reasonable opinion/belief, which could counter an action in defamation. Read "Have you been defamed? What you need to know about defamation law in Australia" for more information about defending a defamation claim.
     
  10. Peter6

    Peter6 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your reply.

    I can talk about it in details. but the company threatened me to talk about it. In which way I can talk about it in details when seeking help and advice and at same time it not against law?
     

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