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Home | Defamation Claims | Injurious Falsehood

What is Injurious Falsehood?

Injurious falsehood is a “tort,” or civil wrong, for which compensation may be available where a statement is made about a person’s or company’s business, which produces actual damage.

It is not an action for defamation, although it shares some characteristics with defamation actions.

An injurious falsehood claim may be available if the person who is the subject of the statement can prove the following:

  • That a false statement was made of or concerning the person’s business or goods;
  • The statement was published to someone other than the plaintiff;
  • The person making the statement intended to cause harm.  Malice is therefore required to be proven on behalf of the publisher by the plaintiff;
  • The plaintiff can prove actual damage, such as loss of business which is caused by the false statement.  The falsehood must cause the harm which is harm of a kind, which is intended, or a harm which is the natural and probable consequence of the making of the false statement.


How to defend a case of Injurious Falsehood?

As set out above the plaintiff has to prove all four elements of the tort. Defending claims of this nature includes putting the plaintiff to proof on the elements.

Can you claim against misleading or deceptive conduct?

An alternative to an injurious falsehood action, a misleading or deceptive conduct action under the Australian Consumer Law may also be available in some circumstances.

Are you seeking advice?

Potential harm to your business? If you believe your business has been harmed by a false statement you should seek advice from one of our specialist lawyers today.

Case Study

A modern case example of this matter is Palmer-Bruyn and Parker Pty Limited v Parsons, (2001) 208 CLR 388, a High Court decision.

In that case the appellant acting for McDonalds, sought the rezoning of land for the purpose of development, and the respondent, a municipal councilor opposed the development. The respondent published a bogus letter attributed to the appellant, who was provided to another councilor, and only a few individuals saw the letter. McDonalds terminated its retainer of the appellant.

The appellant was unable to prove the last element above, namely that the publication of the bogus letter actually caused McDonalds to terminate its retainer of it.

In view of the restrictions on companies bringing defamation actions, which are restricted by Section 9 of the Defamation Act, to companies which are not for profit companies, or those employing fewer than ten persons and unrelated to another corporation, injurious falsehood is a tort or action that is one that can and should be looked at as providing a remedy.

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