Council executives and elected councillors ought to be acutely aware that whilst using their private accounts, they may be deemed to be representing the council when expressing their views and opinions online. The council’s own social media pages can be held to be the publisher of defamatory material and council’s should regularly check those pages to ensure any potential defamatory material is promptly removed.
The more people that receive the publication, the larger the potential injury caused by a defamatory imputation and, consequently, the larger the potential damages awarded to the injured plaintiff. As such, council Members should be extra vigilant with those publications likely to reach a large audience. The LGIS Scheme has paid out in excess of half a million dollars for defamation claims in the past.
Even though a publisher might make a statement or otherwise publish information that seems defamatory, they may have a defence or excuse. These include: