The District Court of Western Australia has awarded a man $12,500 after his ex-wife defamed him on Facebook.

Facts

In December 2012 Ms Greeuw (the defendant) made a public Facebook post that stated: “separated from Miro Dabrowski after 18 years of suffering domestic violence and abuse. Now fighting the system to keep my children safe”.

Mr Dabrowski (the plaintiff) claimed that the disputed post was not removed until early February 2013 and the contents were, in their natural and ordinary meaning, defamatory.

Ms Greeuw, however, denied posting the disputed status. Alternatively, Ms Greeuw claimed that if she did she the post did not have any defamatory imputations and if they did, she relied upon the defence of justification pursuant to s 25 of the Defamation Act 2005 (WA).

Findings

District Court Justice Bowden held that Ms Greeuw had published the post, that it was publicly available and that it was defamatory.

Further, Justice Bowden held that Ms Greeuw could not rely upon the defence of justification because she had not proven on the balance of probabilities that she was the subject of domestic violence and abuse and their children were not safe in his presence or established the essential or substantial truth of the ‘stings’ of the defamation.

It is also interesting to note that Justice Bowden held that a person subject to an interim violence restraining order will not be in breach of that order simply by viewing another’s public Facebook page. This is because it does not ‘constitute communicating or attempting to communicate with her and in light of the public nature of the page viewing it to confirm what had been publicly posted about himself does not constitute behaving in an intimidatory, offensive or emotionally abusive manner towards her.’

The full judgement can be read here: Dabrowski v Greeuw [2014] WADC 175

 

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