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Whale Oil definitely Beef Hooked

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Cameron Slater, aka Whale Oil, has never been a journalist in any sensible sense of the word. That’s despite the shameful Canon media award he received for wallowing in the sordid details of a mayoral affair. And it’s despite the High Court ruling that for the purposes of the Evidence Act, he could be treated […]

Winston Peters sues for defamation

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Winston Peters has sued AM Show presenter, former Black Cap opener, and general larrikin Mark Richardson for defamation. The NZ Herald summarises the offending statements: Richardson said Peters was a “political predator” and took advantage of civil unrest to grandstand, attaching himself to an injury like a “political white blood cell”, or pus. Now, I haven’t […]

A couple of significant defamation appeals

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

In defamation law, there are three basic defences. The first one, aptly called “truth”, protects you if you basically got it right. The second is called “honest opinion”. You can use it where you’ve clearly expressed an opinion, it’s honest, and its based on facts you have set out or which are generally well known. […]

Web hosts’ defamation liability restricted

Friday, September 19th, 2014

In a significant Court of Appeal decision (see Murray v Wishart), hot off the press, the judges have unanimously ruled that a third party publisher (the owner of a Facebook page that contained comments by others) was not liable for other people’s comments simply because he “ought to have known” that they contain defamatory material […]

I am not a bully, says Nick Smith. And if you call me one, I’ll sue you.

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Conservation Minister Nick Smith is being accused of political interference for trying to discourage NZ Fish and Game from publicly advocating for cleaner lakes and rivers. Now he’s threatening to sue those who made the claim. Now, I don’t know what happened at the meeting, and it’s clear there are different recollections of exactly what […]

Is Whale Oil a journalist?

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

More specifically, is Cameron Slater entitled to the same privilege to protect sources that other journalists have? As the NZ Herald reports, the owner/operator/author of NZ’s most widely read blog is being sued for defamation. The plaintiff has formally asked him whether he knows the name of his source. (You might have thought that the […]

Editorials undefended against defamation suits?

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Here’s a surprising thing about the Defamation Act 1992. It removes the right for editorials to argue honest opinion (what used to be called “fair comment”). You ought to be sceptical about that claim. It sounds absurd. Editorials are the very epitome of fair comment/honest opinion. They are written on the assumption that the defence […]

Defamation ruling not very appealing

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Reading the Court of Appeal’s decision in Smith v Dooley [2013] NZCA 428, you get the feeling that the High Court blundered in all the ways it’s possible to blunder in a defamation case. Lang J couldn’t even correctly work out what the words meant. And even if he’d got that right, he couldn’t tell […]

Has the Harrassment Act just swallowed the law of defamation?

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

In a landmark judgment, a court has ordered a blogger to indefinitely remove more than a hundred posts and comments attacking the reputation of a lawyer, and not to write about her again. The decision (Flannagan v Sperling DC Waitakere, 4 June 2013, Harvey DCJ, CIV 2012-090-986) may have opened up a cheap highway through […]

Defamation and satire

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Memo to anyone thinking of suing or threatening someone else for defamation after that person made fun of them. Don’t. It’s not that the law clearly protects humorous speech and satire. That question is a bit vexed. It’s defamatory to say something that brings another person into ridicule. So it looks like that is fairly easily satisfied. […]

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