Just when i thought I'd never be able to reconcile my passion for food with a career in the law it turns out they can be very much related. Who knew it was so risky to describe a few dishes as being unpalatable?
The original review can be found here.
The recent High Court decision against Fairfax Publications for Matthew Evans' review of Coco Roco will probably put a few professional reviewers on edge. At trial jurors did not make out defamation and I imagine food critics across the country let out a sigh of relief. Apparently the buck doesn't stop with the jury on defamation. The owners of Coco Roco argued the jury's finding was unreasonable and the Court of Appeal agreed. A majority (6:1) of the High Court last week upheld that ruling. Apparently judges are better able than a jury to determine these matters according to the majority of the High Court. No prizes for guessing who dissented but it's worth a read to find out why.
It's important to note that given the introduction of the uniform defamation laws it is unclear whether this case really provides much guidance as to what will happen in future litigation. Under the new laws either party can choose to have a jury or judge hear the case (except S.A and the ACT where there is no jury option). Juries won't determine damages but will decide if the publication is defamatory and if it is whether any defence is established.
Here is Fairfax's version, the remarkably similar story as told by the other paper and the story as covered by The Australian which Matthew pointed out to me. Others have already weighed into this debate but for those in search of an unbiased account with a bit of time on their hands, the actual decision. The case now goes back to the NSW Supreme Court to consider the imputation the owners were incompetent, defences available to Fairfax and damages.