Sanicki Lawyers has acted in the successful defence of defamation proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria, in the matter of Srecko and David Lorbek v Peter King  VSC 218.
On 5 May 2022, Justice Michael McDonald ruled that the defamation claim brought by luxury car dealers Srecko Lorbek and David Lorbek against Peter King failed on the basis of statutory qualified privilege, marking the end of a four-year long legal battle.
The proceeding concerned three Google reviews and a post on Law Answers by Mr King, which related to the sale of an unroadworthy Porsche Panamera to Mr King by Lorbek Luxury Cars. The plaintiffs alleged that the publications were defamatory of them.
Mr King was represented by barrister Toby Mullen and Jonathan Xian of Sanicki Lawyers, in an application to reopen evidence at the end of trial and in making closing submissions. Sanicki Lawyers also acted for Mr King in 2018 and 2019 (while Mr King was self-represented in other parts of the proceeding, including trial). Mr King’s representatives successfully argued that the defendant had the defence of statutory qualified privilege under section 30 of the Defamation Act 2005 (Vic). Central to the defence were the findings that the posts were published to a specific audience and that Mr King had acted reasonably in publishing the matter and without malice.
This case is the first of its kind, in which a defendant has successfully established the defence of qualified privilege in relation to Google reviews in Australia. It has major implications for Australian consumers who publish reviews about businesses on the internet.
To read the full judgment of Srecko and David Lorbek v Peter King  VSC 218, click here.
If you would like legal advice or representation in relation to a defamation claim, contact Jonathan Xian (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Darren Sanicki (email@example.com) or call us on (03) 9510 9888.