Defamation in sport – A comparison of the law in France, England and Australia

Published 30 November 2017 By: Mathilde Groppo

Defamation Law Book

The sports world has recently seen several high profile defamation actions involving sportspersons including Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal, former Australian rugby league player Brett Stewart and West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle. It is hard to recall three libel suits having such an impact on the sports world at the same time.

This article explores how the laws of defamation compare in England, Australia, and France. It examines key areas such as limitation periods, procedure, defences and, crucially, damages. It also demonstrates that a similar set of facts might yield a different result depending on the jurisdiction, and that claimants in England and Australia enjoy considerable benefits compared to France. Specifically, it examines:

  • The background to the defamation cases brought by Brett Stewart, Rafael Nadal and Chris Gale;
  • Limitation periods in each jurisdiction;
  • Strict procedural requirements in France;
  • Absence of a “serious harm” test in Australia;
  • Defences


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Mathilde Groppo

Mathilde Groppo

Mathilde is a Legal Adviser in Carter-Ruck’s Media Litigation group.  She has assisted on various defamation cases representing claimants and defendants, individuals and corporations, including on the first trial concerning the issue of serious harm in the Defamation Act 2013.

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