What Is A Concerns Notice?
A "Concerns Notice" is a formal written notice to the publisher of a defamatory statement. It puts them on notice that their statement may carry imputations that defame you.
If you believe someone has defamed you, the first step is likely to issue a Concerns Notice.
Our civil litigation lawyers have a high level of experience in defamation actions. If you need a Concerns Notice issued without delay, we can assist.
What Are Defamatory Imputations?
"Imputations" are what a person would likely conclude from a communication, or "publication".
A publication is something communicated to a third party. This means someone other than the publisher or the aggrieved.
Publications can include words, images, actions, or sounds.
These may constitute "defamation" if the imputations would cause a reasonable person to:
- think less of the aggrieved;
- ridicule the aggrieved; or
- otherwise avoid the aggrieved.
You should seek legal advice if you feel someone has made a publication about you that is defamatory. If you are unsure whether the publication carries defamatory imputations, we will:
- review the publication in context;
- advise you on what imputations a Court will likely accept exist; and
- advise you on your prospects of bringing a successful action for defamation.
Serving A Concerns Notice
A Concerns Notice is sent in the form of a letter to the publisher of the defamatory imputations. It must:
- be in writing; and
- adequately set out the defamatory imputations the aggrieved believes exist.
The recipient of a Concerns Notice can request further details of the imputations.
The aggrieved must comply with their request to provide those details. Otherwise, the Concerns Notice will not have been properly served.
Generally, a Concerns Notice will include:
- the date the publisher made the statement;
- who they communicated it to; and
- the defamatory imputations an ordinary person would likely draw from the statement.
More than one defamatory imputation can exist from a single statement. It is important to set each one out. Some imputations can carry more weight or be more likely for a Court to accept as being there.
From experience, our civil lawyers know the meanings a Court is likely to accept that a person would draw.
Another important step in serving a Concerns Notice is identifying the publisher. You must be able to identify them to issue a Concerns Notice or to start proceedings.
The Importance of a Concerns Notice
Stop the Defamatory Publications
If it is the case that someone is defaming you, your priority is likely to have them:
- cease making defamatory statements; and
- refrain from making any further defamatory statements about you in the future.
A Concerns Notice can bring about a quick resolution to your dispute. For example, it may cause the publisher to:
- retract their statement;
- agree not to make similar statements in future; and
- take other appropriate action to rectify the situation.
Offer to Make Amends
Following an allegation of defamation, a publisher can issue an "offer to make amends".
In a defamation action, a Concerns Notice is important as it limits the time within which they can make an offer. If the publisher wishes to make an offer, they must do so within 28 days of service of the Concerns Notice. The Concerns Notice will bar them from doing so after this time.
An offer to make amends is a powerful defence tool for a publisher in an action for defamation, where:
- the publisher made the offer as soon as practical after they were aware the matter was or may be defamatory;
- the publisher was ready and willing at any time before trial to carry out the terms of the offer; and
- in all the circumstances the offer was reasonable.
The publisher can rely on an offer to make amends as a defence in an action for defamation.
Issuing a Concerns Notice will start the time running for the publisher to make an offer to make amends.
Further, there are strict time limits within which you can bring an action for defamation.
As such, it is generally in your interest to issue a Notice soon after you become aware of the publication.
Call us to speak to a civil litigation lawyer to ensure you meet any deadline and do not lose valuable rights.
Open Negotiations Between the Parties
A Concerns Notice can also be a helpful tool in opening negotiations between the parties. This is often the first step to resolving the dispute.
In some situations, one party may amend their position upon hearing the other side's views.
It is also not uncommon for a publisher not to realise their actions:
- are defamatory;
- open them to litigation or adverse action; or
- have a real-life impact on the aggrieved.
A publisher may not understand the type of conduct that can lead to defamation, including:
- that they only need make a defamatory statement to one person other than the aggrieved; and
- publications can include posts on social media, such as Facebook or Instagram. This is even where the post was on a private group or account.
In summary, a Concerns Notice is important as it will:
- put a publisher on notice that their publication may be defamatory; and
- tell them how they may go about rectifying the situation.
It can be a cost-effective way to quickly stop the defamation and resolve the dispute.
If a publisher does not comply with your Concerns Notice, you can start litigation. We will aggressively litigate your claim if necessary.
Our focus is on results, and we will advise you of:
- all options available to resolve the dispute; and
- your realistic prospects of success so you can decide on the best approach.
Aitken Whyte Lawyers Brisbane Are Focused on Results
If your reputation is being damaged, speak to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
We have experience in defamation proceedings ranging from:
- defamatory online posts against individuals and small businesses; to
- actions against major news corporations.
We will promptly:
- issue a Concerns Notice;
- negotiate with the publisher to reach a beneficial resolution for you; or
- commence litigation for defamation if necessary.
You should not be subject to publications about yourself that are untrue. Contact a litigation lawyer to protect your rights.
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.