In a recent post we discussed a number of points concerning defamation litigation in New South Wales. We suggested that the state has a similar volume of libel litigation to the United Kingdom, despite having something like one eighth of the population. A commentator on the blog post has pointed out that our statistics were seriously misleading. We said that, in 2010, the Courts of New South Wales had produced judgments in 36 cases in which defamation was the main claim, as against a figure of 28 judgments for England and Wales.
In fact, our figures related only to the NSW Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. As the rest of the post made clear, a substantial volume of defamation litigation in New South Wales in fact takes place in the District Court. The judgments of this court can be found on the NSW Case Law website. A quick use of the search facility on this site reveals there have been 18 District Court judgments in defamation cases between January and September 2010.
In other words, the New South Wales courts have, in fact, produced 54 judgments in defamation cases in 2010, as against 28 in England and Wales. This suggests a volume of defamation litigation in New South Wales which is more than 15 times that in England and Wales.
Although we have not seen any equivalent figures for the other Australian states, a brief survey of recent cases does appear to suggest that there is more libel litigation in the courts in Sydney than anywhere else in Australia. All this strongly reinforces our view that Sydney is the libel capital of the common law world. We would be interested in the views of our Australian readers as to whether this title is deserved.