This is the elventh instalment in a regular series from Inforrm highlighting press and case reports of new media and information cases from around the world. It is intended to complement our United States: Monthly Round Up posts. Please let us know if there are other cases and jurisdictions which we should be covering.
In the Media
The trial of Australian journalists and media considering the dismissal of charges for breaching a suppression order concerning the reporting of ex-Vatican treasurer George Pell’s 2018 child sex abuse conviction, was adjourned on 17 November 2020. Reuters reports.
The Guardian has analysed Australia’s media ownership, concluding that it is among the most concentrated in the world. The report comes after Australia’s parliament announced it was to conduct a probe into Rupert Murdoch’s media dominance. The move comes from the efforts of Kevin Rudd and Sara Hanson-Young to establish a review of media ownership and independence.
Media Week reports on PwC’s Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook 2020-2024, which found that media and entertainment revenue is set to contract by 4.46% to $57.4bn in 2020.
In his ongoing defamation case against the Age and Sydney Morning Herald Ben Roberts-Smith has been order to hand over documents which may help determine whether a war crimes inquiry propose to make adverse findings against him.
China has rebuked the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand after being accused of efforts to silence critics in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s opposition resigned in protests after four of their colleagues were deemed threats to national security and dismissed, an act which China dubbed as an “open challenge” to its authority.
Boom highlights false claims that the New Zealand Heritage Union published on its Facebook page that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern “bribed New Zealand mainstream media with NZ$125 million” taken from the country’s taxpayers in order to win re-election.
In the Courts
Aaren Pty Ltd trading as Price Beat Travel v Arya  NSWDC 657 – the defendant was dissatisfied with the services she received from the plaintiff’s travel agency when flying to India. She posted on a Facebook group page which was contested to be defamatory. It was considered whether the plaintiff company had capacity to sue. This was affirmed and defences of justification, statutory privilege and common law qualified privilege we not made out. It was considered whether there was demonstrable proof of loss of income suffered by the plaintiff following publication with it being found there was not, so only nominal damages were justified.
Sarina v O’Shannassy (No.5)  FCCA 2911, in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The case concerned an email sent by a company secretary to two directors, which was later alleged to hold defamatory allegations regarding two shareholders of the company. The defence of triviality was successfully established by the respondent.
Brien v Mrad  NSWCA 259 the NSW Court of Appeal allowed an appeal on liability in a slander case.
Clarke v Nursing and Midwifery Council of New South Wales  NSWDC 641 Scotting DCJ dismissed claims for libel based on an email and other matters.
Lethbridge and District Pro-Life Association v Lethbridge (City), 2020 ABQB 654 M David Gates J found that the City’s decision to ban a number of anti-abortion advertisements was unreasonable. There was a piece on Global News.
Zhao v. Corus Entertainment Inc 2020 BCSC 1533 Milman J granted a motion for the summary dismissal of a number of libel actions on the basis of defences of justification and fair comment.
Gordon v Irish Racehorse Trainers Association  IEHC 363 Bernard J Barton J refused to strike out the defence of qualified privilege and ruled on what should be said to the jury about evidence of the reputation of a witness.
Mabote v Fundudzi Media Proprietary Limited t/a Sunday World  ZAGPJHC 287. The Court refused an order that a media defendant should published an apology
This Round up was complied by Suneet Sharma a junior legal professional with a particular interest and experience in media, information and privacy law.