New South Wales Consolidated Acts
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CRIMES ACT 1900 - SECT 529
529 Criminal defamation
(1) Common law misdemeanour of criminal libel abolished The common law
misdemeanour of criminal libel remains abolished.
(2) Blasphemous, seditious
or obscene libel not affected Subsection (1) does not affect the law relating
to blasphemous, seditious or obscene libel.
(3) Offence of criminal
defamation A person who, without lawful excuse, publishes matter defamatory of
another living person (the
(a) knowing the matter to be false, and
(b) with intent to cause
serious harm to the victim or any other person or being reckless as to whether
such harm is caused, is guilty of an offence.
: Maximum penalty--3 years
(4) Lawful excuse A defendant in proceedings for an offence
under this section has a lawful excuse for the publication of defamatory
matter about the victim if, and only if, the defendant would, having regard
only to the circumstances happening before or at the time of the publication,
have had a defence for the publication if the victim had brought civil
proceedings for defamation against the defendant.
(5) Prosecution to negative
lawful excuse The prosecution bears the onus of negativing the existence of a
lawful excuse if, and only if, evidence directed to establishing the excuse is
first adduced by or on behalf of the defendant.
(6) Functions of jury On a
trial before a jury for an offence under this section--
(a) the question of
whether the matter complained of is capable of bearing a defamatory meaning is
a question for determination by the judicial officer presiding, and
question of whether the matter complained of does bear a defamatory meaning is
a question for the jury, and
(c) the jury may give a general verdict of
guilty or not guilty on the issues as a whole.
(7) DPP to consent to
proceedings Proceedings in a court for an offence under this section cannot be
instituted without the written consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
(8) Evidence of consent of DPP In those proceedings, a consent purporting to
have been signed by the Director of Public Prosecutions is, without proof of
the signature, evidence of that consent.
(9) Proceedings for an offence do
not bar civil proceedings The commencement of criminal proceedings for an
offence under this section does not prevent--
(a) the commencement of civil
proceedings for defamation against the defendant in the criminal proceedings,
(b) the determination of the civil proceedings pending the determination
of the criminal proceedings.
(10) Proof of convictions for offences If the
question whether or not a person committed an offence (other than offence
under this section) arises in proceedings for an offence under this section,
section 42 of the Defamation Act 2005 applies to the proof of the commission
of that offence in the same way as it applies to such proof in civil
proceedings for defamation.
(11) Interpretation In this section,
"defamatory" have the meanings that they have in the law of tort (as modified
by the Defamation Act 2005 ) relating to defamation.
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