On what grounds can an individual be sued for defamation?

With the prevalence of social media, enquiries concerning potential Defamation suits have reached an all-time high. This of course comes as no surprise. With social media users are able to post comments, photographs, memes and the like instantaneously, perhaps without the opportunity for appropriate forethought and good sense. This also includes the re-posting by users of other persons posts which could be construed as defamatory. The other difficulty for social media users is that any posting on the Internet is, for all intents and purposes, available in perpetuity. That is, there is really no adequate method to permanently remove a post from the internet. In essence, if you post something then you own.

In order to sue for defamation the person aggrieved needs to establish to the satisfaction of the court:

  1. That the offensive article, comment, photograph or other post was published. That is, it was not a private communication. Posting on social media, for example, is clearly a publication of the material. Re-posting will also constitute publication.

  2. The published material must adequately identify the person aggrieved. This can be done by name. It could also be achieved by circumstance. If for example the defamatory publication makes reference to an individual in sufficient detail to identify that individual without actually naming them, then this itself will be sufficient to constitute identification of the person aggrieved.

  3. That the published material was defamatory in that it operated to demean or denigrate the reputation of the person identified.

  4. That there is no legal excuse for the publication of the material complained of.

There are many defences available to a defamation suit. The person who posted the offending material can defend the claim by alleging:

  1. That the matters published were substantially true.

  2. The published material constituted the expression of an honestly held opinion as opposed to the making of a statement of fact.

  3. That the material complained of, when taken in the context of the entire publication, caused no harm.


There are strict time limits with respect to the prosecution of a defamation claim. There is only one year available from the date of publication of the offending material in which to bring proceedings. There are limited circumstances in which the time period can be extended. Accordingly, if you wish to pursue a claim arising from the publication of defamatory material then contact Brydens Lawyers without delay. Brydens Lawyers are the experts in the prosecution of defamation claims. Contact us on 1800 848 848 or at brydens.com.au. At Brydens Lawyers – #WE DO defamation claims.