Cheap Stunt is a Costly Act for Former Acquaintance

Cheap Stunt is a Costly Act for Former Acquaintance

KEY TAKE OUTS

  • The ACT Magistrates Court has found in favour of a woman who was a victim of a leaked nude image and accompanying disparaging comments by a former acquaintance.
  • The Plaintiff claimed that the posted nude image of her and the disparaging comments made against her were defamatory in nature as they injured her reputation.
  • The Chief Magistrate awarded the plaintiff $54,000 in damages.

Recently, in the matter of Edwards v Gill [2020] ACTMC 21, the ACT Magistrates Court ordered the Defendant to pay $54,000 in damages after posting a nude image of the Plaintiff and making defamatory comments against her in a group chat.

The Plaintiff sued in the tort of defamation for compensatory and aggravated damages after the Defendant posted a nude image of the Plaintiff. The image was widely circulated within the community through a group on Facebook Messenger where the Defendant also made defamatory comments against the Plaintiff.

The Plaintiff only became aware of the posted image of herself when a school friend sent her a screen shot of the image. The Plaintiff recognised the image as one she had exchanged with a former intimate partner for personal use only.

The Plaintiff also received screen shots of messages posted in the Facebook group. The Plaintiff knew at least six of the members in the group chat. She even received a message from her butcher who asked her “do you know there’s a nude pic of you doing the rounds?” The Plaintiff was shocked, embarrassed, and humiliated when she found out how many people the image was published to in the group chat.

The Defendant denied that the posts were defamatory in nature and argued that they were “honest opinion” and were unlikely to cause the plaintiff any harm.

Findings

The Chief Magistrate held that it did not matter how the Defendant intended the images and comments to be received, the test used is how they are perceived by an ordinary reasonable person. The Chief Magistrate found that the defamatory comments and the nude image harmed the Plaintiff’s reputation and awarded the Plaintiff $45,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $9,000.00 for aggravated damages.

If you are concerned about the distribution of an intimate image without your consent, please contact Coutts today.


ABOUT CHRISTINE GUIRGUIS:

Christine Guirguis

Christine Guirguis is a Senior Lawyer within our commercial and dispute resolution team. She has experience in acting for small to medium sized businesses and individuals in a range of commercial areas including employment, leases, shareholding, construction law, dispute resolution, and commercial litigation.


For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Christine Guirguis
Senior Lawyer
ChristineG@couttslegal.com.au
1300 268 887

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