Gayle could get millions in defamation payout

first_imgFAIRFAX Media could be faced with a huge payout to Windies batsman Chris Gayle against whom they lost a defamation suit on Monday.A jury of three women and a man found to be untrue, a series of articles published by Fairfax in 2016 that claimed that the Jamaican batsman exposed himself to masseuse Leanne Russell in 2015.Fairfax Media’s lawyer Matthew Collins QC, who said he was “shocked and disappointed” at the decision, admits that if they lose on appeal, “It will cost the company a lot of money…”Gayle, who said after the trial that he was more concerned about clearing his name than whatever amount is awarded, could be in for a nice windfall if a recent history of defamation cases is anything to go by.In New South Wales, where the case was heard, there is no limit on how much money the court can order in costs to the winner of a defamation complaint.According to reports, a Western Australia court, last year, awarded the largest ever Australian payout in a defamation case brought by three people against a blogger, Terence McLernon, of AUD$700,000.Australia’s Uniform Defamation Act, last amended in 2005, does not differentiate between publishing by a media company or an individual and makes no mention of Internet, print or social media publication.Celebrity status can also play a significant role in how much money is paid out to someone whose character has been besmirched by media.In September 2017, Actress Rebel Wilson was awarded Australia’s highest-ever defamation payout, after successfully suing Bauer Media over a series of defamatory articles.According to a story published on news.com.au, “a Supreme Court judge claimed the extent of Wilson’s defamation was “unprecedented” and warranted substantial damages — to the tune of more than $4.5 million — after the jury found articles published in Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly, New Weekly and OK!, unfairly painted her as a serial liar who’d faked her way to Hollywood.”It’s a huge financial blow to Bauer, the online news site reported, especially considering lawyers for the Pitch Perfect star claim that before the trial, she had offered to settle for $200,000.Defending a court action for defamation costs can vary from $100,000 to $1.1 million, which far exceeds the legislated maximum damages of $381,000, the figures show.Damages can also be substantial.Fairfax Media’s lawyer Richard Coleman said only about 10 to 15 per cent of defamation claims made against the media organisation, publisher of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, ever made it to court.(Sportsmax)last_img read more