Last updated 10 June 2022

Defamation proceedings can either be heard in the District or Supreme Court. If the damages being claimed are less than $750 000 then the proceedings should be commenced in the District Court (s 68 District Court of Queensland Act 1967 (Qld)). Proceedings are commenced with a claim and a statement of claim filed at the court registry. If you receive a claim and a statement of claim, you need to seek legal advice. A defence to the claim must be filed and served within 28 days of the claim and statement of claim being served upon you.

The role of jury and judicial officers

Either party in defamation proceedings in the Supreme Court or District Court may elect to have the proceedings determined by a jury, unless the court orders otherwise.

A court may order that defamation proceedings are not to be tried by jury if the trial:

  • requires a prolonged examination of records
  • involves any technical, scientific or other issue that cannot be conveniently considered and resolved by a jury.

Where an election has been made by the parties to have the matter determined by a jury, the party who made that election can unilaterally abandon that election by advising the other party of this decision (see Kencian v Watney [2015] QCA 212). However, an election may be revoked only:

  • with the consent of all the parties to the proceedings
  • if all the parties do not consent, with the leave of the court.

If the case involves a jury, the role of the jury is limited to determining whether the aggrieved person has been defamed (s 22 Defamation Act 2005 (Qld)). This decision will be made having regard to whether defamatory matter about the aggrieved person was published and whether any defence has been established by the publisher. In this circumstance, the determination of the amount of damages to be awarded is the responsibility of the judge and not the jury.

The jury is not permitted to determine other issues that are to be determined by the judge. This includes, for example, whether the defamatory matter was published on an occasion of absolute or qualified privilege for the purposes of a defence.

It is a question for the jury whether the truth of an imputation is substantially made out.