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Law Council of Australia


Nothing to write home about: Australia the defamation capital of the world

Speech delivered by Dr Matt Collins AM, QC, President of the Victorian Bar at the National Press Club, 4 September 2019.

"Australian defamation laws – the laws of libel and slander – bear the indelible stamp of their lowly origins.

Libel was derived from Roman law. It was originally a crime, often prosecuted in the Star Chamber.

Slander emerged in the ecclesiastical courts in England in the early middle ages.

Not a promising start for a cause of action that is supposed to balance two fundamental rights when they come into conflict in the internet age: the private right to protect one’s reputation, and the public interest in freedom of expression."

You can read the full speech below.


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