n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - The protection of false defamatory publications by the mass media : recent developments in South Africa against the background of Australian, New Zealand and English law




In the last decade important developments to extend the protection of qualified privilege to false defamatory mass-media publications, based mainly on constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression or speech and of the press, have taken place in Australian, New Zealand and English law. In Australia and New Zealand the protection has been expanded to information about political matters only, though not to the same extent, while English law preferred a broader approach encompassing all (also political) matters of public interest to the community. These developments also had a marked influence on South African law. In this country two significant judgments of the Supreme Court of Appeal recognised both the reasonable publication of defamatory untruth generally, and the reasonable publication of defamatory untrue political speech as separate, new defences. The purpose of this discussion is to evaluate the merits of these two decisions against the background of the developments in Australia, New Zealand and England.


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