What remedies are available?
The remedies in defamation are compensatory damages, aggravated damages, business or financial loss (if applicable), interest on damages, costs and in some cases injunctive relief.
An award of damages for defamation is essentially dependant on two factors, the seriousness of the defamatory imputation found to arise from the defamation and the extent of publication.
The Defamation Act 2005 now sets the limits that a court is able to award in terms of compensatory damages for non-economic loss. With adjustments as prescribed under the Act for the cost of living it is presently $324,000.00. Rarely have courts in defamation actions awarded sums of this magnitude for general compensatory damages.
Notwithstanding the above limitations courts are however also permitted in some circumstances to award aggravated damages over and above the award of compensatory damages.
In some limited circumstances, courts will grant injunctive relief in order to restrain or prevent further publication of defamatory material. Such relief is sometimes granted on an interim basis, pending a trial of the matter or at the conclusion of a defamation matter to prevent further publication. However, courts will generally only grant such relief in extenuating circumstances where it can be shown that the right of freedom of speech has been or will be abused. Awards of damages are generally deemed to be an adequate remedy.
Individual liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation (personal injury work exempted).