Workplace Investigations

 
Queensland woman, June Marion Kelly has won $10,000 following a defamation case against her ex husband, David Levick who published a slanderous post about her on social media. The post, which was published on Facebook in late 2014 portrayed Kelly as mentally impaired and alleged that she had commit crimes. “June turned out to be a thieving, lying, money crazed bitch who screwed me out of nearly 3 million rand – may she rot in Hell.” Levick published.
 
Kelly was seeking $150,000 in damages from her ex husband, for being called a “thief” and being cited as having a mental disorder.
 
Following Levick’s defence alleging that the post was intended to be private and wasn’t aimed at Kelly, the court magistrate Simon Young deemed Levick’s defence unsatisfactory. Young awarded Kelly $10,000 with interest at a rate of four per cent, amounting to a total of $10,784.74.
 
With social media increasingly ingrained in our everyday lives and as one of our most common means of communication, social media defamation cases are becoming more and more common.
 
In a similar case earlier this year, Sydney couple Matt and Annette Palmer faced a legal fee of $15,000 for posting a defamatory post on social media about their neighbour and his “agitated and highly excitable” dog.
 
The post included a poster of neighbour Nader Mohareb and stated that he was “known to police” and “a highly volatile individual, prone to manic outbursts… often abusive and threatening, particularly towards women and children”.
 
While defamation laws and rulings can vary from state to state, the cases of June Marion Kelly and Nader Mohareb are indicative of how a Facebook post can be legally binding in Australia and be referred to within defamation, divorce and a variety of other cases in the Courts.
 
Although Facebook appears to be mostly fun and unconstrained, users should be wary of the consequences of publishing disparaging posts about others. When it comes to defamation, the same rules apply online as they do offline. Social media users should be aware that it is defamatory to state that someone is corrupt, dishonest, disloyal or suspected of committing a crime, to ridicule someone, to state that someone has a contagious disease or is suffering from a mental disorder.
 
If you would like some more information about defamation laws in Australia, or if you believe you have been defamed on social media, do not hesitate to contact Owen Hodge Lawyers on 1800 770 780.
 
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