The Rookie and the silk

learning the 'ordinary reasonable person' in defamation law

Roy Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article examines the way in which the law and lawyers determine the extent to which a publication is defamatory. That issue is decided by estimating the response to the material of a hypothetical audience commonly personified in the ‘ordinary reasonable person’. By means of empirical research into how the public and practising lawyers perceive this imaginary being, the paper asks first whether the ‘ordinary reasonable person’ bears any relationship to public opinion and secondly the extent to which ‘he’ is an imagining of the legal mind, part of legal doctrine that can be learned through legal education and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-422
Number of pages24
JournalMedia and arts law review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • defamation
  • libel
  • third person effect
  • lawyers
  • legal practice
  • slander
  • Australia
  • media
  • law
  • ordinary
  • reasonable person
  • reasonable third-person
  • effect

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