A new law which will allow people to sue their employers for defamation has been approved by the Federal Court.
Key points:The new defamation law will allow individuals to sue an employer for defamation under section 44 of the Corporations ActNew defamation laws are set to be introduced by the statesThe Attorney-General will review the proposed legislation and determine if it will be brought in line with state lawNew defamation law: Under section 44(3) of the Companies Act, an employer can be held responsible for an act that is done with the intention of defaming a person or companyAn employer may be held liable for a defamation under this section if:It is likely to prejudice the reputation of a person, organisation, company, company director or any other person or entity of the company, or cause a person to feel aggrieved, harassed or threatenedThe company is a public company and is likely or has reason to believe that an action, speech or conduct is likely, or has been done, with the purpose of defamatory; orThe employer reasonably believed that the act, speech, conduct or communication was likely to be defamatorial and did not take reasonable steps to avoid or suppress itA court has to decide if an act is defaminal under this lawThe new section 44 also includes a new provision allowing individuals to bring a defamation action against their employer under section 43 of the Crimes Act 1914.
The Attorney General will be reviewing the proposed new law and will decide if it can be brought into line with the states.
The law has been proposed as a result of a survey of the public in Australia conducted by the Australian Law Reform Commission in 2017.
It is the first time the new section 43 has been included in the Crimes and Courts Act since the Crimes (Defamation) Act 1988, which was introduced in 1988.
The new law will now be introduced into Parliament and will become law on March 1, 2020.
The changes are designed to allow Australians to bring their own defamation action.
The first court challenge to the new legislation will be made in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney.
The legislation will also be applied to other states and territories.
Under section 44, the Attorney-Generals discretion to make a decision on a defamation law challenge will be limited to the Attorney General’s discretion to decide whether to make such a decision.
The laws also apply to any company that is not a public or private company and which does not provide an independent professional service or is not part of a public body or organisation.
The Commonwealth is responsible for drafting the legislation.