Breach of Privacy and Defamation Tort Law in Australia

tort law, defamation tort law, Australia, defamation

Defamation Tort Law

Currently, a tort of breach of privacy is not recognized in Australia. Being a participant of the International Convention for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the country is obliged to protect the rights to privacy of individuals through domestic law. By establishing a tort law of breach of privacy, it will be able to accomplish its obligation. The decision made in the case of Australian Broadcasting Corporation v Lenah Game Meats Pty Ltd (Lenah)  suggested the development of the law of privacy but also highlighted that various alternative routes can be adopted in order to deal with issues. In addition, Victoria Park Racing Course highlighted that there does not exist any right to privacy to protect the commercial interest. This indicates that alternative tort like passing off, defamation and injurious falsehood are dealt in a better way under commercial torts for seeking financial losses and damages that arise from the breach of privacy. Therefore, in Australia, privacy as a right to autonomy is unprotected in Australia.

Grosse v Purvis  and Doe v Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Even in case of Grosse v Purvis  and Doe v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Doe) , breach of privacy was considered a civil tort, where Doe referred to the UK tort law of breach of confidentiality based on which the defendant was obliged to safeguard the plaintiff’s personal information and thus the plaintiff was awarded the damages. Based on different cases, a need of developing tort of breach of privacy is identified in Australian law as the common laws and current statutory is ineffective in protecting people’s right to privacy. Additionally, the High Court in 2001 indicated the possibility of having a tort law for invasion of privacy. As observed in the case of Grosse v Purvis [2003] QDC 151, the judge awarded damages to plaintiff under the invasion of privacy. Despite the merged for more a decade, Australia does not have any legal definition of privacy. Recently a statutory cause of action was recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission in order to justify the invasion of privacy tort law.

On the contrary, the defamation tort law of Australia has undergone significant reformations. The new changes have done three things: it has specified a set of common legislative defenses, it has reinstated the common law in each territory and state, and it annuls previous legislation.

This is a model paper on “Breach of Privacy and Defamation Tort Law in Australia”.

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