A major shift in defamation law – Rafe Mair Ruling Strikes a Blow for Freedom

Ezra has lots, Jay Curry comments as well. Libel Cry Babies The Lying Jackal and Lucy Warman are weeping in their Suckybaby mash today.

Damian Penny has more, the following is key, and a desperate update to our draconian libel laws:

It is therefore appropriate to modify the “honest belief” element of the fair comment defence so that the test, as modified, consists of the following elements: (a) the comment must be on a matter of public interest; (b) the comment must be based on fact; (c) the comment, though it can include inferences of fact, must be recognizable as comment; (d) the comment must satisfy the following objective test: could any person honestly express that opinion on the proved facts? Even though the comment satisfies the objective test of honest belief, the defence can be defeated if the plaintiff proves that the defendant was subjectively actuated by express malice. The defendant must prove the four elements of the defence before the onus switches back to the plaintiff to establish malice.