Qualified privilege

This is a defence to a claim for defamation. As the name suggests it is not a complete or absolute defence.

There is more to this defence to an action for defamation than absolute privilege. The defence is about the communication itself although on occasions the situation when it is made is also important. In addition the fact that it can be defeated by showing the existence of malice demonstrates that it is more properly called qualified privilege and therefore different than absolute privilege. Examples include statements made in the following situations:


  • in exercises of a duty for example a comment made in a reference;

  • in pursuance of an interest for instance a comment made within a memo in internal business;


Qualified Privilege extends to fair and accurate reporting of public meetings. Section 7 of the Defamation Act, 1952 has extended this privilege to a list of situations which includes:


  • proceedings which are reported without explanation of the sort mentioned in Part 1 of the Schedule of the 1952 Act for example Public Proceedings in Commonwealth Parliaments;

  • privileged reports subject to an explanation of the sort mentioned in Part 2 of the Schedule for example fair and accurate reports of trade associations.



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