Media, Defamation and Privacy

Lavan's Media, Defamation and Privacy team provides advice to minimise risks connected with the potentially crippling effects of damage to brand, corporate image, profile and the reputations of key officers and personnel.
Nick Stagg
Nick Stagg
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Media, Defamation and Privacy

Information is power and Lavan's Media, Defamation and Privacy team are skilful navigators of the sea of statutes, laws and legal principles that can impact daily on businesses and the information they seek to protect, acquire or use in some way.

On 1 January 2006, uniform defamation laws took effect across Australia.  The interpretation and application of this legislative regime is being adjusted with each new case.  Judgments cannot always be anticipated by legal precedents.  

Our Media, Defamation and Privacy team acts for both claimants and defendants (including the media).  

We take reasonable and prudent actions to protect your interests and look to achieve a satisfactory resolution, including keeping a watchful eye on cutting-edge developments in Australia and the rest of the world, particularly the UK and USA.

Our team delivers real and effective business and commercial outcomes.  We provide advice and representation in relation to the many processes and inquiries which seek to uncover and exploit information.  These include freedom of information processes, court-driven discovery processes and matters such as Royal Commissions, Coronial, Corruption and Crime Commission proceedings, statutory-based regulatory investigations and Parliamentary and local government inquiries.

Defamation and Media

People may institute claims for non-economic loss when they have been exposed to hatred, contempt or ridicule by a defamatory publication.  We will methodically and unerringly seek to establish evidence for or against such claims, with a careful and experienced judgement that protects the claimant from further reputational loss and damage.

If the publication of defamatory material proves to have an adverse effect on a person’s occupation or trade, deterring business or in any way reducing their income, then damages may be sought beyond the limitations imposed by the new defamation statutes.

Instant access to a global readership via the internet has greatly increased the risks of defamatory matter being published and widely circulated.  A single defamatory email can be injected into an international forum numbering in the millions.  We act to prosecute offenders to the fullest and to seek maximum damages, and implement strategies to try and deal with regulatory issues, and the leakage of sensitive and/or confidential or commercially sensitive information.

Most corporations, including statutory bodies, can no longer sue for defamation.  However, senior officers of the company who are implicated by a defamatory attack on the company can still pursue a personal course of action.  Small corporations employing fewer than ten workers, as well as other business entities, partnerships and not-for-profit corporations may still be able to sue for defamation.  There may be other avenues open to companies to protect their hard earned corporate reputations – we can explore those possibilities and advise on strategies to help guard against damaging publications, before they happen.  Of course, companies of any size are still liable for publishing defamatory material.  Our team will advise you on how to avoid exposing the company to defamation claims for material that it publishes or broadcasts, including on websites and via the internet.

The uniform defamation laws in Australia have imposed a statutory cap on awards of damages for non-economic loss (ie. general damages).  Legal costs can push financial exposures much higher.  Where risks are greatest, especially in media-based organisations, judgement and experience become a real necessity.  Our experienced team is here to help.

Freedom of information

Information is power.  We live in the information age.  Parliament and the courts are dealing with information issues - disputes as to access, disputes as to leakage, protection and production - on an ever increasing basis.  Freedom of information laws govern the information held by government and its agencies and society's right to access it.  Our team can guide you on accessing such information, or protecting your sensitive and commercial in confidence information which is in the hands of governments or its agencies and the focus of a freedom of information access application. 


Our team can advise you on this cutting-edge area of the law in Australia.  While the UK and Europe have advanced their legal principles to protect the right of privacy of individuals, the Australian legal landscape is on the verge of change as this important frontier is pushed and tested here.  The Media, Defamation and Privacy team can advise you on your privacy position whenever you think your rights might have been infringed.