Damages for defamation in different jurisdictions

Matthew Howe

In a recent ruling, the Australian courts have allowed Geoffrey Rush to keep his defamation pay out. Geoffrey Rush is best known for his role in The Kings Speech where he played the speech therapist assisting the King during the Second World War.

In April 2019, Geoffrey Rush brought a claim for libel against The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, which had published accusations that Mr Rush had been guilty of inappropriate behaviour towards a former colleague in a theatre production.

The court agreed that Mr Rush had been libelled and awarded him damages of just over £1.5 million. The publisher (owned by Rupert Murdoch) appealed against the decision and against the size of the pay out but lost on both counts.

This was and therefore remains the largest defamation pay out ever awarded in Australia. It sets a precedent for this type of untrue statement, and the context in which it was published. Therefore if someone with a similar profile to Mr Rush, has a similar allegation made about him by a national newspaper, they could expect to receive a similar level of damages. 

Damages in the USA tend to be at a similar level to damages in Australia. 

The damages for libel in the USA can be even higher than the levels of damages awarded in Australia. The courts in both countries tend to make awards that are far higher than those awarded in the English courts, where a maximum pay out of around £350,000 is not unusual.

If you have been the victim of libel by a newspaper, on social media, or in any other way, we may be able to help.

Contact us today for a free initial discussion about our services.