Fair report of proceedings of public concern

Proposal 10–6 The new Act should provide for a defence of fair report of proceedings of public concern.

10.56 This proposal provides a defence for individuals who fairly report on public proceedings which may reveal private information that could otherwise amount to a serious invasion of privacy. This defence will be of particular significance to media organisations, court reporters and educational institutions.

10.57 The provision is modelled on the defence of fair report of proceedings of public concern in the UDL.[55] This statutory defence to defamation applies to the publication of defamatory matter contained in documents from public proceedings such as proceedings of a Parliamentary body, an international organisation, court or tribunal, inquiries including Royal Commissions, meeting of shareholders of a public company, and other public proceedings.

10.58 The ALRC considers that the meaning of ‘fair’ as it has developed at common law and in the interpretation of defamation statutes should apply to this proposal. In that context, fair refers to summaries of proceedings which intend to honestly convey to the reader the impression which the proceedings would have had.[56] Whether a report is fair will be a question of fact for a court.