Defamation Law in Focus: Litigation, Defences and Mitigation of Damages

Gain invaluable insights from firsthand experience at the high-profile Ben Roberts-Smith trial, delve into the intricate dynamics of social media defamation, suing journalists and mitigating damages. Refine your understanding of key legal nuances and strategic approaches regarding the new Public Interest Defence and the Honest Opinion Defence. Learn from seasoned practitioners, ensuring you are well-equipped to navigate the evolving defamation landscape with confidence. 

Friday, 24 May 2024
Early Bird Discount is available until 10 May 2024 $556.50

Attend and earn 7 CPD units in Substantive Law
This program is applicable to practitioners from all States & Territories

Session 1: Insights from the Defamation Frontline – Defences and Serious Harm

David Gilbertson KC, Chapman’s List

9.00am to 10.00am Stories from the Frontline: Truth Defence Succeeds in Ben Roberts-Smith 'Defamation Trial of the Century'


  • The key allegations in the case and how they were proved
  • The challenges faced during the litigation
  • Key lessons learned during the case

 Presented by Dean Levitan, Senior Associate, MinterEllison

2.00pm to 3.00pm Defamation in the Federal Court and the Overarching Purpose


  • Costs in proportion to matters in dispute
  • Timely determination
  • Efficient use of court resources
  • Alternative dispute resolution to trial process

Presented by Patrick George, Principal, Company Giles

4.00pm to 4.15pm Afternoon Break
4.15pm to 5.15pm “Mitigation” of Damages in Defamation


  • What is “mitigation” of damages in defamation?
  • In what circumstances can a court reduce the damages which would otherwise have been awarded to a plaintiff on the basis of evidence concerning the plaintiff’s character and reputation?
  • What is the scope of the principle in Burstein v Times Newspapers Ltd [2001] 1 WLR 579?
  • In what circumstances can a court reduce the damages which would otherwise have been awarded to a plaintiff on the basis of the plaintiff’s conduct during the trial?

Presented by Nicholas Olson, Barrister, Level 22 Chambers

10.00am to 11.00am Social Media Defamation & Developments in the Threshold of Serious Harm


  • Different approaches to defamations on social media
  • Stage 2 reform of the uniform defamation laws: what’s coming in July 2024
  • Developments in the application of the threshold of serious harm

Presented by Sophie Robertson, Special Counsel, Bartley Cohen Litigation Lawyers; Best Lawyers 2024, Defamation and Media Law

11.00am to 11.15am Morning Break
11.15am to 12.15pm The New Public Interest Defence: Defamation Act s.29A


  • Russell v ABC (No 3):  Recent developments in interpretation and application of s.29A
  • The relevance of the UK authorities to construction and application of the public interest defence in Australia
  • How effective is this defence in meeting its objective of protecting public interest journalism?

Presented by Parisa Hart, Barrister, Nigel Bown Chambers

12.15pm to 1.15pm When to Sue a Journalist and What to Do When They are Sued
  • Why are journalists sued personally and should they be?
  • What are the repercussions of suing a journalist separately (Herron v HarperCollins; Russell v ABC; Lehrmann v Wilkinson)?
  • Independent legal representation for journalists and their right to indemnity

Presented by Sue Chrysanthou SC, 153 Phillip Barristers

Session 2: Legal Tactics & Strategies in Defamation Litigation and Damages Mitigation

Rebecca Dunn, Partner, Gilbert + Tobin

3.00pm to 4.00pm Honest Opinion: A Useless Defence?

•    A history of the many failures and occasional successes of the HO defence
•    Main hurdles for the Honest Opinion defence
•    Practical aspects of the Honest Opinion defence
Presented by 


Patrick George, Principal, Company Giles
Patrick George is a leading defamation and media lawyer. He has over 40 years' experience and is a trusted adviser to some of Australia's most high-profile individuals. He acted for media organisations for many years while a partner at MinterEllison before leaving to set up Kennedys. Last year he joined Company Giles now known as Giles George. He is the author of the text 'Defamation Law in Australia' 4th edition (2022) LexisNexis.

Mr. Nicholas Olson, Barrister, Level 22 Chambers
Nicholas is one of Sydney’s leading junior counsel in defamation and media law, having appeared in a number of the most high profile defamation cases since being called to the Bar. He acts for both plaintiffs and defendants and is often unled, including against Senior Counsel. His practice is national and he has appeared in defamation matters in the Queensland and Western Australian courts, as well as the New South Wales and Federal courts. Nicholas is lectured in Media Law: Defamation and Privacy at the University of Sydney. In addition to media law, Nicholas maintains a broad commercial practice with a particular interest in privacy and breach of confidence, insurance and intellectual property matters.

Ms. Parisa Hart, Barrister, Nigel Bowen Chambers
Parisa has been practicing as a barrister since 2016 and she has a broad commercial practice with a particular interest in Defamation and media law. She acts for both plaintiffs and defendants, led and unled. She has a national practice involving trials, court appearances and legal advice in New South Wales, Victoria, the ACT, Queensland, South Australia and in the Federal Court. She has written articles on legal topics which have been published in the Australian Bar Review, the Bar News Journal, Gazette law and Journalism, Law Society Journal and often appears on Benchmark’s BenchTV to discuss important legal issues and recent cases.

Ms. Rebecca Dunn, Partner, Gilbert + Tobin
Rebecca is a partner in Gilbert + Tobin’s Tech+IP group specialising in Intellectual Property and Media Law. She is an experienced litigator who has worked on some of the leading copyright cases in Australia. In addition to copyright, her focus is on trade mark litigation, Australian Consumer Law litigation and defamation. She advises clients across industries including health care, media and entertainment in relation to the multiple legal issues associated with branding. Rebecca has particular expertise in the online space in relation to copyright, consumer law, social media, privacy, data protection and defamation. She has worked on a variety of enforcement matters for both national and international clients including the film and music industries. Rebecca has litigated cases in the Supreme and Federal Courts and at appellate level in the NSW Court of Appeal, the Full Federal Court and the High Court of Australia. Rebecca is the current President of the Communications and Media Law Association, a member of the Copyright Society of Australia and the Intellectual Property Society of Australia and New Zealand. Rebecca has a Bachelor of Law (First Class Honours) from the University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Arts (Communications Studies) from the University of Newcastle. Rebecca was admitted as a solicitor in 2005. Rebecca also has a Masters of Research in issues relating to social media law and democracy.

Mr. David Gilbertson KC, Barrister, Chapman’s List
David Gilbertson practises in all areas of administrative, commercial, corporations, media and defamation law. His corporations law practice includes market-related matters, such as insider trading and market manipulation, and schemes of arrangement. David Gilbertson has an extensive practice in media and defamation law. As well as plaintiffs, he has acted for most of the large media outlets and several book publishers in Australia.

Dean Levitan, Senior Associate, MinterEllison
Dean is a media lawyer at MinterEllison with expertise leading high-stakes and high-profile litigation on behalf of media companies. Dean’s clients include Australian publishers like Nine Entertainment and Private Media, and international publishers including CNN, Al Jazeera and the New York Times. He also advises government departments, politicians, businesspeople and public companies in relation to complex and sensitive matters. Most recently, Dean helped lead the team that successfully defended the defamation proceedings on behalf of Fairfax Media commenced by Ben Roberts-Smith in the Federal Court of Australia. He prides himself on building trusting relationships and careful strategic thinking.

Sophie Robertson, Special Counsel, Bartley Cohen Litigation Lawyers
Sophie is a media lawyer and litigator with extensive experience in media and defamation matters. She provides legal advice to some of Australia’s largest media organisations, including daily pre-publication advice to a national broadcaster. Sophie also acts for publishers, authors, insurers and private individuals. She was a Board Member of Women in Media Australia from 2019 to 2023. Sophie has significant experience in defamation matters (both plaintiff and defendant), contempt proceedings, non-publication orders, court access applications, urgent injunctions, privacy law, freedom of information / right to information requests and protecting sources. Sophie also has a broad range of experience in commercial litigation and dispute resolution, professional negligence and insurance disputes.

Ms Sue Chrysanthou SC, Barrister, 153 Phillip Barristers
Sue Chrysanthou SC is a leading defamation barrister whose practice also includes intellectual property matters. She was called to the bar in 2004 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2020. Sue has acted in a number of key cases including Rush v Nationwide News, Hanson-Young v Leyonhjelm, and Stead v Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd.


Defamation Law in Focus: Litigation, Defences and Mitigation of Damages


All Sessions
Friday, 24 May 2024
9.00am to 5.15pm Australia/Sydney
CPD Points 7
Early Bird Discount is available until 10 May 2024 $556.50
Online 20240418 20240524


On Demand 20240418 20240524

Post Seminar Recording

Morning Session
Friday, 24 May 2024
9.00am to 1.15pm Australia/Sydney
CPD Points 4
Early Bird Discount ends 10 May 2024 $353.50
Online 20240418 20240524


On Demand 20240418 20240524

Post Seminar Recording

Afternoon Session
Friday, 24 May 2024
to Australia/Sydney
CPD Points 3
Early Bird Discount ends 10 May 2024 $294.00
Online 20240418 20240524


On Demand 20240418 20240524

Post Seminar Recording