Australia’s leading independent law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, represented well-known comedian and actor Rebel Wilson in obtaining the largest defamation damages award in Australian legal history, A$4.56 million – four times the previous record.
On Wednesday 13 September 2017, Victorian Supreme Court Justice John Dixon determined Rebel should receive A$650,000 in general and exemplary damages and A$3.92 million in special damages “for Ms Wilson’s opportunity for new screen roles lost by reason of the defendants’ publications”.
Justice Dixon said in his decision, “Unless substantial damages are awarded there is a real risk that the public will not be convinced of the seriousness of the defamation, but will rather wrongly conclude that the articles were trivial or not that serious. The jury comprehensively rejected the defences and only a substantial damages award can now vindicate the plaintiff.”
On 15 June 2017, the jury had found in favour of Rebel Wilson on every element of her claim, agreeing that articles published in Woman’s Day, the Australian Women’s Weekly and other publications in 2015 were defamatory and untrue and that some were motivated by malice.
“As Rebel said after the jury returned its verdict in her favour, the case was never about money, it was about holding Bauer Media to account for what they printed about her,” said Corrs Partner Richard Leder who represented Rebel.
“The jury answered every question put to them in Rebel’s favour. They accepted that Rebel told the truth and they accepted her family told the truth.
“Today’s decision sends another important message. Justice Dixon’s award recognises the serious harm caused to Rebel’s reputation and held Bauer Media to account for what the judge accepted was an orchestrated campaign against her.
“Corrs is very proud to have helped deliver this record breaking award on behalf of the entire legal team, I want to say how pleased we are for her.”
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