Last updated 24 August 2016

The law relating to defamation in Queensland is found in the Defamation Act 2005 (Qld) (Defamation Act) and the common law.

The Defamation Act does not affect the operation of the common law except as specifically provided for in s 3 of the Defamation Act. The purpose of the Defamation Act is to ensure that the law of defamation in Queensland is consistent with the rest of Australia, and to:

  • place some limits on the law to ensure that it does not place unreasonable restrictions on freedom of expression
  • provide fair remedies
  • encourage non-litigious methods of resolving disputes (s 3).

The Defamation Act applies to any defamatory matter published on or after 1 January 2006. The Defamation Act 1889 (Qld) will continue to apply to defamatory matters published prior to 1 January 2006. It will also apply to defamatory matters published after 1 January 2006 that are raised in proceedings that include other causes of action that accrued before 1 January 2006 (but no later than one year after the action accrued), provided that each action arose out of the publication of the same or substantially the same matter on different occasions (s 49 Defamation Act).

Is Queensland law the correct choice?

Each Australian state and territory has its own laws for defamation. The Defamation Act sets out the rules for determining the state or territory in which a claim for defamation should be commenced (s 11 Defamation Act). Generally, the claim should be brought in the state or territory in which the defamatory matter was published. If the matter was published in multiple places (e.g. on facebook to friends living throughout Australia) then the relevant law to be applied is the law of the place in which ‘the harm occasioned by the publication as a whole’ has its closest connection (s 11 Defamation Act). Depending on the specific circumstances, this is likely to be the state or territory in which the person claiming defamation lives or works.