In a landmark decision, and the first of its kind in Australia,
the New South Wales District Court has ordered a former student of
Orange High School to pay $105,000 to a teacher for defamatory
In the case of Mickle v Farley, Ms Mickle sued the former
student for defamation because of a tirade of comments he posted on
Twitter (and Facebook) about her. The former student seemed to
believe that Ms Mickle had something to do with his father leaving
his job as head of music at the school - beliefs that were
unsubstantiated by evidence.
Although the tweets and posts were removed within a couple of
weeks and an apology made by the former student, the Judge awarded
Ms Mickle $105,000 for the effect it had on her life. Ms Mickle
went on sick leave shortly after the comments were made and could
only return to work on a limited basis.
Don't be fooled into thinking this doesn't apply to you.
If you have any type of online presence via social media, whether
as an individual or a business, then take note. The effects that
defamatory comments may have can be devastating. Even if deleted
within minutes, chances are that numerous people have already seen
it and may have even shared, retweeted or saved the comment causing
a domino effect of damage that may not be apparent immediately.
This serves as a timely reminder that you can never be too
careful when posting comments online. The damage an inappropriate
comment may cause to your personal life or your business can be
costly and devastating. If someone can prove that you have damaged
their reputation then legal action can be taken against you. Be
aware that this applies to comments on portals such as Snapchat or
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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This was an interlocutory decision about the appointment of a tutor for the child appellant, to carry on his proceedings.
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