Defamation Act 2009

23.

Effect of offer to make amends.

23.— (1) If an offer to make amends under section 22 is accepted the following provisions shall apply:

( a) if the parties agree as to the measures that should be taken by the person who made the offer to ensure compliance by him or her with the terms of the offer, the High Court or, where a defamation action has already been brought, the court in which it was brought may, upon the application of the person to whom the offer was made, direct the party who made the offer to take those measures;

( b) if the parties do not so agree, the person who made the offer may, with the leave of the High Court or, where a defamation action has already been brought, the court in which it was brought, make a correction and apology by means of a statement before the court in such terms as may be approved by the court and give an undertaking as to the manner of their publication;

( c) if the parties do not agree as to the damages or costs that should be paid by the person who made the offer, those matters shall be determined by the High Court or, where a defamation action has already been brought, the court in which it was brought, and the court shall for those purposes have all such powers as it would have if it were determining damages or costs in a defamation action, and in making a determination under this paragraph it shall take into account the adequacy of any measures already taken to ensure compliance with the terms of the offer by the person who made the offer;

( d) no defamation action shall be brought or, if already brought, proceeded with against another person in respect of the statement to which the offer to make amends applies unless the court considers that in all the circumstances of the case it is just and proper to so do.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), it shall be a defence to a defamation action for a person to prove that he or she made an offer to make amends under section 22 and that it was not accepted, unless the plaintiff proves that the defendant knew or ought reasonably to have known at the time of the publication of the statement to which the offer relates that—

( a) it referred to the plaintiff or was likely to be understood as referring to the plaintiff, and

( b) it was false and defamatory of the plaintiff.

(3) Where the defendant in a defamation action made a qualified offer only, subsection (2) shall apply in relation to that part only of the action that relates to the part of the statement or the meaning, as the case may be, to which the qualified offer relates.

(4) A person who makes an offer to make amends is not required to plead it as a defence in a defamation action.

(5) If a defendant in a defamation action pleads the defence under this section, he or she shall not be entitled to plead any other defence in the action, and if the defence is pleaded in respect of a qualified offer only he or she shall not be entitled to plead any other defence in respect of that part of the action that relates to the part of the statement or the meaning, as the case may be, to which the qualified offer relates.