Here is the first paragraph of a recent interlocutory judgement. Check out the dates. The judgement is dated 22nd November 2010. Six years and there’s no sign of a trial. Not much more need be said really. I’d add that litigating defamation ought to be a relatively straightforward exercise. One shouldn’t need to go digging for discovery. What’s been said is out in the open, so the essential question is whether it’s defamatory or not and what damages might be appropriate. In a difficult case the former question could be a tricky matter or law, but that’s all – ie the facts are likely to be pretty well sorted. So it shouldn’t amount to more than a few days of expert legal argument on a the tricky point or two of law. Then a judgement. On damages, maybe there are a few trickier facts to determine. Who knows. Anyway shouldn’t all that be possible in a month or two? Well no actually. Silly me. It’s six years and counting.
CHANNEL SEVEN ADELAIDE PTY LTD v MANOCK
1 SASCFC 59
1 The respondent to this appeal, Dr Manock, commenced an action for defamation in the District Court against the appellant, Channel Seven Adelaide Pty Ltd (“Channel 7”) on 22 March 2004. On 15 February 2008, almost four years after the commencement of the action, Channel 7 applied to a master of the District Court for permission to amend its defence to plead justification. The issue on this appeal is whether Channel 7 should have been granted permission so to amend its defence on that application.