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Are you aware that everything you publish on social media or even by private message to third parties, or even around the happy hour group in a caravan park is considered lies if it is something negative about a business or person?

How does it make you feel that in the Australian defamation laws falsity is presumed (i.e. you are telling lies) and you have to prove that you are telling the truth or that it is your honest opinion in the public interest.

In defamation laws, you are presumed to be a liar until you prove you are not. Most of the other laws have you innocent until proven guilty. How is that fair in a democracy? How does that make you feel from a moral and ethical standpoint and as a citizen in a democracy? This law impugns your integrity as a honest person.

Businesses and individuals are using defamation laws as weapons of silence and bullying. If you post an honest review of a business, you can be threatened with defamation action if you don't remove it. If you remove it, the bully wins and consumers are none the wiser about the poor quality of the business's product or services. If you don't remove it then they file a writ for defamation, which costs less than $1000 in most jurisdictions, and now you are faced with getting a lawyer and potential costs of tens of thousands of dollars even if you win. Courts rarely award full costs.

The reason this happens is because of the reverse burden of proof. If they had to prove you are lying, they would be reluctant to do so unless they were absolutely sure, because it is likely they know you are telling the truth. They would have had other complaints that they similarly silenced. 

The current defamation laws were last amended in 2005, well before explosion of social media and review web sites. They a no longer relevant in the current age of mass publishing. They need urgent review.

I want to make the clear point though that this is not in any way a suggestion that cyber bullying should be freely allowed. Those laws also need to be strengthened urgently. This argument is about stopping illegitimate means of silencing by using the law as a weapon, mostly of consumers.

There also needs to be a low cost pre trial conference where a judge will ascertain if the defamation litigation is vexatious. Right now to do that the defendant needs to issue a summons and risk more costs if it fails.

I know all this because I am defending myself against what I believe to be vexatious litigation by the manufacturer company director of my lemon caravan. I posted the truth and my honest opinion in the public interest. The stress has been debilitating. The financial cost is excessive. As a disability pensioner I have no means to defend myself except for crowd funding.

Now I have received another threat from another business. I have evidence that everything posted is the truth. I have asked them for evidence that it is false and they refuse to supply it. Why? Because they don't have to. They can lie themselves, threaten defamation and force me to defend myself and my group.


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Tracy Leigh needs your help with “Senator George Brandis: CALL TO REVIEW DEFAMATION LAW IN AUSTRALIA”. Join Tracy and 477 supporters today.