Rebel Wilson to appeal “bizarre” damages cut
Media June 15, 2018 3:41 pm By Miklos Bolza | Sydney

Actress Rebel Wilson has vowed to appeal a decision by the Victorian Court of Appeal that slashed a record $4.75 million defamation payment down to $600,000.

In a flurry of tweets early Friday morning Australia-time, Wilson said she looked forward to appealing the judgment, which was “clearly not” reasonable. The court, she said, was “absolutely flippant” with respect to the economic loss she had suffered from Bauer Media’s “maliciously defamatory articles”.

A jury verdict on June 15 last year found that Bauer, in a series of Women’s Day articles, had called Wilson a “serial liar” who had “fabricated almost every aspect of her life”.

“Only a substantial sum in damages could convince the public that Ms Wilson is not a dishonest person and bring home the gravity of the reputational injury established before the jury,” Victorian Supreme Court Justice John Dixon said in his judgment awarding Wilson the record sum.

In its decision Thursday, the appeals court set aside the damages awarded to Wilson for economic loss, ruling that Judge Dixon had wrongly inferred that the Women’s Day articles could, by the “grapevine” effect, influence Hollywood decision makers.

In addition to a $650,000 payout for general damages, Judge Dixon had awarded Wilson $3.9 million in special damages for losing out on Hollywood film roles as a result of the defamatory articles.

“For a considerable number of reasons, the critical inferences drawn by the judge could not be upheld,” a summary of the appeals court’s 250-page judgement said, adding that there was no basis for awarding any damages for economic loss.

In her tweets, Wilson expressed disappointment that the charities, to which she had pledged the $4.75 million payment, would now receive far less than expected.

“That’s now $4 million less going to less fortunate Australians and leaves a billionaire corporation, proven guilty of malicious defamation, being able to get away with their seriously harmful acts for a very low pay day! Clearly not fair. Come on Australia,” she tweeted.

 

News Corp Australia, Fairfax Media, Macquarie Media, the ABC and the Seven and Nine networks filed a bid in February to intervene in Bauer’s appeal.

Wilson was represented by Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

The case is Bauer Media Pty Ltd v Wilson.

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Miklos Bolza

Miklos Bolza has been a journalist for three years. He has written for a variety of publications, including NZ Lawyer, HRD Australia, and Australian Broker. He is currently the Sydney court reporter for Lawyerly.