Sydney declared defamation hot spot

Sydney is the defamation capital of the English-speaking world, according to a British legal expert working in the Australian city. Based on his research, figures show that one writ is served for every 79,000 people in the state of New South Wales, which is a higher rate than England, with one claim per 121,000 people, and much higher than the US, where the proportion is one claim per 2.3 million people.
The figures have been compiled by the Communications Law Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney as part of a three-year programme to examine the public’s perception of defamation.
Senior researcher Roy Baker said: “There’s something in the culture in the US that respects freedom of expression that does not exist to the same extent here.”
His working theory is that Australia has inherited a mix of the UK’s cool regard for freedom of expression and the US’s fondness for general litigation. “Australia is caught in the middle between the UK culture of restricting the media and the US culture of being fairly litigious,” he said.
Baker intends to discover the Australian public’s perception of defamation, what allegations they still regard as defamatory and how they interpret defamatory material in the media.