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Small Defamation Claims in Small Claims Jurisdictions: Worth Considering for the Sake of Proportionality?


Kim Gould

Online communication continues to pose challenges for the law and the administration of justice. One such challenge concerns its propensity to give rise to small defamation claims between ordinary people given the often-enormous costs of litigating defamation claims before the ordinary courts. This article promotes a reform agenda directed to meeting this challenge by (1) demonstrating the need for a proportionate means for resolving small defamation claims, having regard to access to justice considerations and other wider concerns; (2) establishing reasonable grounds for seriously considering deploying the traditional small-claims-proportionate response – small claims jurisdictions – for this purpose notwithstanding contraindications including the infamous complexity of defamation law; and (3) advancing a research pathway for the proportionate treatment of small defamation claims to guide decision-making and innovation. This article also advocates for consideration of this important issue in the ‘national reform process’ launched in 2018 for Australian defamation law.

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(2018) 41(4) UNSWLJ 1222: