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National defamation law reform

Discussion paper released

Publication Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Defamation laws around the nation are getting a makeover as part of a reform process being led by NSW.

A discussion paper has now been released by the Council of Attorneys-General, signalling a significant milestone in the reform process. The discussion paper invites submissions on defamation reform from media outlets, internet providers, social media platforms, lawyers and anyone interested in this important area of the law.

Feedback from the community and stakeholders will play a vital role in shaping defamation laws in Australia. The Council of Attorneys-General's Defamation Working Party will carefully consider all submissions before recommending amendments to national model defamation provisions. This robust public consultation process is a crucial part of delivering reforms to defamation law across Australia.

In NSW, the Defamation Act came into force before the social media explosion and so is in need of a digital makeover. The Act is based on national model defamation provisions adopted by all Australian jurisdictions.

The process of reform started with the release last year of the NSW Government's statutory review of the NSW Defamation Act. Consistent with the timetable released at the end of January, the Defamation Working Party is working towards having national defamation reform 'Parliament-ready' in June 2020.

The discussion paper is available online via the NSW Department of Justice's website. Further public consultation is also scheduled for the end of 2019, giving interested parties another opportunity to provide their input ahead of the target date of 2020.

Submissions close on 30 April 2019. All submissions should be sent to policy@justice.nsw.gov.au or Review of Model Defamation Provisions, Justice Strategy and Policy Division, NSW Department of Justice, GPO Box 31, Sydney, 2001.