Commencement of major reforms to the Uniform Defamation Laws
Legal update: archive, Commencement of major reforms to the Uniform Defamation Laws provides a brief background to the defamation law reforms and an overview of the key changes implemented to the Uniform Defamation Laws.
The reforms to defamation laws commencing in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory implement the Model Defamation Amendment Provisions 2020 (MDAPs) which were developed as a result of the review into Australia's Model Defamation Provisions. In line with the agreement of the Council of the Attorneys-General in July 2020 to implement these provisions, it is expected that the remaining jurisdictions will enact similar amendments as soon as possible after 1 July 2021.
The following amending legislation commenced on 1 July 2021:
- Defamation Amendment Act 2020 (NSW).
- Justice Legislation Amendment (Supporting Victims and Other Matters) Act 2020 (Vic).
- Defamation (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2020 (SA).
- Defamation (Model Provisions) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (Qld)
- Civil Law (Wrongs) Amendment Act 2021 (ACT).
The amendments implement key changes, such as:
- New pre-trial procedures to encourage early resolution of defamation disputes including in relation to the issue of concerns notices and offers of amends.
- Introduction of a serious harm threshold to the cause of action for defamation.
- A new public interest defence.
- Introduction of a single publication rule to address a significant issue in relation to the commencement date of limitation periods for online material.
- Clarity in regard to the maximum damages amount for non-economic loss in defamation proceedings.