Defamation Nation



How Australia Became the Defamation Capital of the World
A court ruling in favor of a billionaire businessman against The Sydney Morning Herald illustrates the sorry state of the country’s defamation laws.

By Louisa Lim
Ms. Lim is a senior lecturer at the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne, and a former NPR and BBC correspondent based in Beijing.

(NYTimes, 3-5-19)

This article is interesting for citing language of an Australian judge in ruling that a Chinese businessman was defamed by a 2015 Sydney Morning Herald article. (The article alleged bribery of a United Nations official by the businessman, who has been a major
political donor.)

It’s one thing to look up dictionary definitions of “defamation,” but another to see how a judge defines it in a real court case. The article’s author describes Australia’s defamation laws as “oppressive and notoriously complex.”

The judge in the case ruled that the offending article “used language that was ‘imprecise, ambiguous and loose, but also sensational and derisory’.” Let’s see now, where else have I
seen that sort of language recently? Oh yes. Everywhere.

(c) 2019 JMN.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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