Full Court Minute Books

Case S319/2011

Papaconstuntinos v. Holmes a Court

Case No.


Case Information

Lower Court Judgment

21/03/2011 Supreme Court of New South Wales (Court of Appeal)

(Allsop P, Beazley JA, Giles JA, Tobias JA, McColl JA)

[2011]NSWCA 59


Defamation — Defence of qualified privilege — Respondent involved in bid to invest funds in South Sydney District Rugby League Football Club ("Club") in exchange for controlling interest — Applicant, employee of Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union ("CFMEU"), opposed respondent's bid — Prior to Extraordinary General Meeting at which bid was to be put to Club members, respondent sent letter of complaint to State Secretary of CFMEU, copied to former Chairman of Club, which also came to attention of applicant's immediate supervisor — Trial judge found letter conveyed three defamatory imputations and rejected, inter alia, respondent's plea of common law qualified privilege on the basis that there was no "pressing need" for the respondent to protect his interests by volunteering the defamatory information — Court of Appeal held defence of qualified privilege established since respondent had a legitimate interest in publishing the defamatory letter, and that the trial judge erred in applying the test of "pressing need" to establish qualified privilege — Whether defence of qualified privilege at common law requires evidence of "pressing need" to communicate defamatory matter — Whether absence of "pressing need" decisive — Whether requisite reciprocity of interest existed on occasion of communication of defamatory matter — Whether respondent's communication of suspicion of applicant's criminality fairly warranted to protect of further respondent's interests.

Words and phrases — "pressing need".

Short Particulars


02/09/2011 Hearing (SLA, Sydney)

16/09/2011 Notice of appeal

14/10/2011 Written submissions (Appellant)

14/10/2011 Chronology (Appellant)

04/11/2011 Written submissions (Respondent)

25/11/2011 Reply

10/05/2012 Hearing (Full Court, Canberra)

15/05/2012 Supplementary Note (Respondent)

05/12/2012 Judgment  (Judgment summary)