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Defamation law in New Zealand

Defamation law in New Zealand

Defamation is a statement published or spoken that negatively impacts the reputation of a person. In New Zealand, the laws of defamation are governed by the Defamation Act 1992

To have a successful defamation action, the plaintiff will need to establish that the statement was defamatory towards them and was communicated to one or more people, this can be referred to as “publication”.

Plaintiff’s do not have to prove that they suffered any specific damage or loss, as the law assumes loss if a statement is defamatory. Body corporates, however, must prove that the defendant has caused, or is likely to cause you monetary loss.

Remedies available for those making a defamation claim are;

  • Compensatory damages.
  • An injunction to stop further publication.
  • A correction or a retraction, or;
  • In certain cases, a plaintiff might also be awarded punitive damages. These are intended not to compensate the plaintiff but to punish a defendant.

There are means of defence against defamation that a defendant can claim, including;

  • Truth: where the defendant proves that the imputations or publications were factual about the plaintiff.
  • Honest opinion: where the defendant proves that the opinion expressed is the defendant’s genuine opinion.
  • Consent: where the defendant proves that the plaintiff consented to the publication of the matter that is the subject of the proceedings.
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