Extending common law qualified privilege to the media: a comparison of the English and Australian approaches

Roy Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper compares the recent expansion by Australian and English law of situations where the common law defence of qualified privilege can apply to defamatory material in the media: Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Australian High Court) and Reynolds v Times Newspapers Ltd (House of Lords). By exploring applications of the latter decision by the lower English courts, the paper concludes that what significantly distinguishes it from the Australian decision is that it has application outside of political discourse. This, the paper argues, is the correct approach, due to the difficulty of delimiting the 'political' in a theoretically neutral way. The paper also notes the House of Lords' ready appreciation of the commercial imperatives of news, and conclude by asking whether we are better served by a shift towards a public interest defence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-100
Number of pages14
JournalMedia and arts law review
Volume7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Keywords

  • defamation law
  • media law
  • journalists and the law
  • journalism and the law
  • free speech
  • political expression
  • defence of qualified privilege

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