High Court of Australia

Roberts v Bass [2002] HCA 57

212 CLR 1; 77 ALJR 292; 194 ALR 161

12 Dec 2002

Case Number: A37/2001

Before

Gleeson CJ, Gaudron, McHugh, Gummow, Kirby, Hayne, Callinan JJ

Catchwords

Defamation – Defences - Qualified privilege - State election - Publication of electoral material - Reciprocity of interest - Proof of malice - Improper motive - Whether intention to cause political damage constitutes an improper motive - Relevance of honest belief in truth of statement - Relevance of reckless indifference to truth or falsity of published material - Relevance of knowledge of falsity of published material - Relationship of common law qualified privilege to extended qualified privilege as identified in Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1997) 189 CLR 520.

Constitutional law (Cth) – Implied limitation upon laws restricting freedom of expression concerning governmental and political matters - Whether constitutional question arises having regard to issues before the State trial and appellate courts - Whether constitutional implication may be disregarded - Whether general common law relating to the occasion of qualified privilege is compatible with the Constitution - Whether general common law relating to malice is compatible with the Constitution - Whether common law needs to be developed to ensure compatibility - Ingredients of malice in the circumstances of the case - Whether malice established in communications published in a State electoral campaign.

Words and phrases – "malice".

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