NSW SLAPPs

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This page is part of a list of Australian SLAPP suits and threatened law suits. It contains the references to SLAPPs in the state of New South Wales (or cases in the NSW Division of the Federal Court). The full details of the list and the definitions used is at SLAPP's in Australia.

Cases

Woolgrowers sued People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Animal Liberation NSW and officers of both organisations for allegegly organising US consumer boycotts of Australian wool over the issue of mulesing (cutting skin from the backside) of sheep. This was a huge case which appears to have backfired as the settlement reached in July 2007 provides good political outcomes for PETA.[1] The case against Animal Liberation and two other defendants continues.

The local council taking Bill Ringland to court for defamation over comments about sewarage (which was actually effluent, not sewerage!).[2] In MAy 2004 the NSW Court of Appeal ruled that local councils did not have the right, power or authority to sue for defemation. The Court of Appeal ruled that the council must pay 75% of Ringland's legal costs. Copy of Ballina Statement of Claim and Ringland's Cross-Claim (Pdf)

Byron Bay developer, Jerry Bennette suing Greens MP Ian Cohen for defamation over Cohen's remarks at a fundraiser for local teacher and progress association secretary, Bill Mackay who was being sued by Bennette.The publicity from the case may not have been counterproductive for Bennette's reputation.[3]After initially winning the case in 2006, Cohen, in 2009, lost on Bennette's appeal to the Appeals court where three judges read the transcript but heard no further evidence. Cohen's costs are (in 2011) $1.3 million about $300,000 is interest accrued due to the delays in assessing the costs. This impost seriously limits the ability of Cohen to continue environmental activism. Bennette was awarded $15,000 in damages. The problem here is the costs being out of all proportion to the damages. [Mackay]

  • Bennette v Mackay NSW District Court, 2001.

Byron Bay developer, Jerry Bennette, sued local teacher and progress association secretary Bill Mackay over a letter to the editor of a local paper. After the court found the letter did defame Bennette, Mackay published a mandated apology in three local papers, paid $20,0000 towards Bennette's costs and paid $1000 sum to a nominated charity. Mackay was awarded the Most Expensive Letter prize by the Echo[4][Mackay]

  • Bruce Mathie & Sons Pty Ltd v Daines & Ors (2005) Supreme Court of NSW.

Injunctions sought against protesters by a logging company in South East NSW.[5]

  • Commonwealth Bank v Finance Sector Union, Federal Court, NSD1775/2004

Although mainly an industrial case, it contains elements of a SLAPP: the union reports that the bank is suing it for moving motions at the bank’s annual general meeting. [6]

  • Cordina and Summertime Chickens v Galston Area Residents Association

Defamation case against a local residents group for a letter to Council objecting to a development application.[7]

There is no other law suit like David Jones! The retail giant sued the Canberra based think tank, The Australia Institute and its Director, Clive Hamilton over the launch of a report analysing the sexualisation of children in advertising. The suit is for misleading and deceptive conduct under the Trade Practices Act.[8]

  • Helensburgh District Protection Society members sued by a property developer - 1993

A residential developer sued members of the Society after they wrote and organised responses to a Willongong Council development plan saying that a development in the area would be environmentally damaging and the area should be zoned for conservation.[9]

Outgoing Warringah Mayor successfully sued another Councillor over comments about his conduct on Council.

  • Mark Pearson summoned over piggery visit

Animal Liberation activist Mark Pearson summoned to court to dob in other activists after revealing conditions at an intensive piggery in July 2006.[10]

  • Media Press Ltd v Helen Christoforidis & others

Greek newspaper suing local residents for defamation over a leaflet advertising a meeting to protest a development application lodged by the company.[11]

  • NSW Forestry Commission v Sheed 1993

James Prest reports the suit against 32 protesters in the Dingo and Bulga forests, some of whom had only tenuous connection to the protests.

Organic diary supplier suing over a complaint by a customer and retailer to Consumer Affairs Victoria about the labelling of some of the products of diary supplier. This case was moved to the Victorian Supreme Court (No. 9714/2006) where the company was also suing for media comment on the same issue.

  • Summertime Chickens v EDO NSW

Defamation case against the NSW Environmental Defenders Office for public comments on the company's case against the Galston residents.[12]

  • Tobacco Institute of Australia vs Stephen Woodward, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, 1993. The Tobacco Institute of Australia (TIA) sued Woodward under the NSW Fiar Trading Act that he acted in "trade or commerce" as a consultant to ASH. TIA claimed that Woodwards comments on the dangers of passive smoking were designed to adversely affect the business of those in the tobacco industry. In December 1993 Justice Bryson rejected TIA's claim.

Threats

  • 1990: ICI forshadowed possible legal action against environmental campaigners following a report which stated that the company often used a stormweater drain for the release of production waste into Botany Bay. The report stated that ICI's State Pollution Control Commission licence only allowed them to discharge clean stormwater in wet weather. ICI's General Manager (Plastics), Tony Rogers told The Leader that "If they are claiming this that are not true, we will take legal action against them," he said. The report was released by Ian Cohen, now a member of the NSW Upper House for the Greens.
  • 1993: Developer threatened Helensburgh Protection Society with more legal proceedings for lobbying against an inquiry into a development. The developer was already suing them![13]
  • 2003: Duncan Hardie threatened The Wilderness Society over its website about a development at Paxton. The claim was that the website was defamatory, a breach of the Trade Practices Act, and constituted Injurious Falsehood.[14]
  • 2005: The Director-General of the Department of Infrastructure Planning and Natural Resources threatened The Wilderness Society over a letter sent to her asking her to comment on allegations about her behaviour and that of her department.[15]
  • 2007: Lawyers for the NSW Minerals Council got Newcastle environment group, Rising Tide's website anti-coal parody of the mining industry's "Life: Brought to you by mining" website taken down twice by complaints to the website host that the parody site breached copyright.[16]

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