Module 3 Defamation learning problem: The scathing review


Module 3 Defamation learning problem: The scathing review


You run a popular accommodation reviews website called ‘True Blue Reviews’ which is famous for its frank ratings of Australian hotels and motels. While you are happy to run critical – even scathing – reviews, you are very wary of defamation action and try to keep within the bounds of key defences. You are also wary of fake reviews posted by competitors trying to steer business from another hotel to their own. Two reviews of motels at the tiny fishing village of Dolphin Bay have been posted within the past few hours.


Fisherman’s Lodge – Rating 1/10 – The staff are so unfriendly we thought we were staying at Fawlty Towers. Bathroom plumbing is hanging out of the wall and the toilet hasn’t been scrubbed in weeks. Bed bugs big enough to use for bait. Our advice: ‘Dodge the Lodge’.  – Steve and Penny Daltrone, Port Lincoln

Dolphin Delight – Rating 10/10 – The name says it all – it is sheer heaven for anyone wanting to enjoy the delights of Dolphin Bay. Smiling staff, sparkling amenities, and a welcoming hibiscus flower on the starched white linen. Home away from home, just metres from pristine waters. – Doris Parchley, Suffolk, United Kingdom.


Strangely, though, both comments were posted from the same computer IP address in – you guessed it – Dolphin Bay, Australia.


Use your 600 words to answer these questions about this situation:


  1. What are the main media law issues that arise here?
  2. Explain briefly how those laws and possible defences might apply.
  3. What cases / examples / legislation are relevant to this situation?
  4. Assuming the goal is to try to publish as much material as is legally allowable, what course of action would you recommend for the publisher in this situation and why?

Discuss the problem with fellow students on the Discussion Board section of the Learning@Griffith site. [Of course, you cannot copy other students’ contributions in your own answers because this will be detected by Turnitin and raised as an Academic Integrity matter.].

Note: This is the third of your three learning problems to be submitted. Refer to the Assessment section of the site for information about the due date for the package of three x 600 word responses.



There are a number of issues that are evident in this case. First, will publication of the review, knowing that they were made from the same IP address, amount to defamation of Fisherman’s Lodge? Second, can truth and honest opinion be used as a defense against defamation in this case, pursuant to s. 31 of honest opinion and s. 26 on contextual truth of the Defamation Act 2005?