Consultation on amendments to defamation laws

Elise Archer,Attorney-General and Minister for Justice

Draft legislation to amend Tasmania’s Defamation Act 2005 has today been released for public consultation.

The Defamation Amendment Bill 2021 seeks to enact the Model Defamation Amendment Provisions 2020 (MDAPs) which have been agreed by the Attorneys-General of the States and Territories.

The MDAPs modernise and enhance the uniform defamation laws currently in place across Australia, striking the right balance between the need to provide fair remedies for a person whose reputation is harmed by a publication, and the need to ensure defamation law does not place unreasonable limits on freedom of expression, particularly about matters of public interest.

The Defamation Amendment Bill 2021 seeks to amend Tasmania’s Defamation Act 2005 by introducing new provisions that include:

  • the introduction of a single publication rule concerning the limitation period for multiple publications of the same defamatory matter by the same publisher or an associate of the publisher;
  • the creation of a serious harm element of a cause of action for defamation, to be determined by the judicial officer as soon as practicable before the trial commences;
  • various amendments to clarify the concerns notice procedure and procedure for offers to make amends;
  • introduction of a new public interest defence model; and
  • clarification of the operation of the cap on damages for non-economic loss.

The Bill is available for public comment through the Department of Justice website https://www.justice.tas.gov.au/community-consultation and submissions close on Friday, 2 July 2021.

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