Defamation: do you think you may have been defamed by someone? Have you been the victim of what used to be called “libel” or “slander”?

Has your small business been defamed?

Have you suffered embarrassment and humiliation due to what has been said or published about you?

Has your business lost customers and revenue?

If so, you (and/or your business) may have a viable claim in defamation against the person(s) responsible.

Legislation – South Australia

The Defamation Act of 2005 (SA) abolished the traditional distinction between libel (which meant to defame someone in writing) and slander (which meant to defame someone by the spoken word). Nowadays, both are included under the general term “defamation,” regardless of how the defamatory statements or comments are published.

The objects of the 2005 Defamation Act are –

  1. to enact provisions to promote uniform laws of defamation Australia; and
  2. to ensure that the law of defamation does not place unreasonable limits on freedom of expression and, in particular, on the publication and discussion of matters of public interest and importance; and
  3. to provide effective and fair remedies for persons whose reputations are harmed by the publication of defamatory matter; and
  4. to promote speedy and non-litigious matters of resolving disputes about the publication of defamatory matter.


It used not to be necessary for the person (or business) who has been defamed to have suffered what the law calls “special damages” (e.g. actually monetary loss) in order to bring a claim as a result of a defamatory publication.

However, in 2021, a new section 10A was introduced into the Defamation Act, and it is now a requirement that an aggrieved person has suffered serious harm to his or her reputation to be able to bring proceedings in defamation against the publisher of defamatory matter.

Social Media

In addition to the traditional forms of defamation (e.g. publication in a newspaper or on television or radio or words spoken at a public meeting), modern technology and social media, in particular, means the publication of defamatory comments about others has become much more common, perhaps because people do not realise that, for example, a Facebook post or an online review can amount to defamation.

A Defamation Claim?

Defamation is a complex and technical area of the law.

If you think you may have been defamed, it is best to seek out legal advice at an early stage, as if the publication continues, the damage to your reputation may escalate. 

Many people defame others (or businesses) without realising that they have done so or that they may face legal action as a result.

Time Limit

If you are unsure about your position, you should get advice as soon as possible.

Unlike other civil claims (where the time limitation period is much longer), a defamation claim has to be brought within 12 months of the publication of the defamatory matter.

If you would like to know more about your rights in this area, contact us to make an appointment to see Debra Lane.

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