Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Gligorijevic on Taming the "Chilling Effect" of Defamation Law: English Experience and Implications for Australia @FederalReview

Jelena Gligorijevic, ANU College of Law, is publishing Taming the ‘Chilling Effect’ of Defamation Law: English Experience and Implications for Australia in volume 50 of the Federal Law Review (2022). Here is the abstract.

The ‘chilling effect’ of defamation law has driven legislative action narrowing this tort’s scope and operation. As substantial reforms come into effect across Australia, this article provides a detailed analysis of how defamation law in the United Kingdom has developed since similarly narrowing reforms took effect there almost a decade ago, and the implications this will have for Australia. Two important aspects of reform in both jurisdictions are the serious harm threshold, and the public interest defence. Both are targeted at narrowing the tort, and taming its ‘chilling effect’. Although both of these two changes have definitively narrowed the tort in the United Kingdom, neither of them has revolutionised this tort or abolished its core purpose to protect reputation against false imputations. Given the consistency in legislative purpose and framing of the new provisions as between the two jurisdictions, Australian courts should, consistently with their English counterparts, exercise caution when interpreting the new threshold and the new defence, to ensure they do not tread too far from the deeper principles underpinning the tort, even in its narrower, tamer form.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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