The highly publicised case of Rebel Wilson v Bauer Media has recently come to its conclusion in the Supreme Court of Victoria, with the Hollywood Star winning her defamation suit against the magazine publisher.
In various articles published in 2015 by Woman’s Day, Woman’s Weekly, OK Magazine and New Weekly, it was stated that Rebel Wilson had publicly lied about her age, real name and upbringing. Rebel Wilson stated during the trial that the articles were a “malicious, deliberate take-down” published to coincide with the release of one of her movies. Wilson alleged that she was ultimately sacked from DreamWorks films Trolls and Kung Fu Panda 3. She alleged that as a result of the articles, she struggled to find work.
Defamation cases are difficult cases to litigate, and the law differs from state to state. In South Australia the law is dealt with largely through the Defamation Act, which requires defamatory imputations being disseminated (published) to third persons which result in damage to the defamed individual. There are various defences to a claim of defamation, particularly Truth of the statement, which is one defence Bauer Media had attempted to rely on.
The Woman’s Day journalist who was the first to publish some of the material claimed to have received some information from a source who went to high school with the actress. It is unlikely that this would have allowed the defence of Innocent Dissemination under the Defamation Act in South Australia however, noting the overall magazine had overall editorial control over the content matter and may have not taken reasonable steps to ensure the content was accurate before it was first published. If they had proved the information published was in fact true, the overall decision likely would have been very different.
It is thought this case may start a landmark decision which causes publishers of articles regarding public figures to think twice about printing material which may cause harm to a reputation.
If you think you may have been defamed, you should obtain advice at your earliest possible opportunity. Contact us on 8523 8400 (Gawler) or 8211 6500 (Adelaide) to arrange an appointment for an initial no obligation consultation with one of our Lawyers. Alternatively, send an email to email@example.com and we will contact you.