Rebel Wilson returns to court to fight payout figure appeal from Bauer Media
Published: 18 April 2018
Rebel Wilson has returned to court to fight an appeal by the publisher who was found to have defamed her.The 38-year-old actress was awarded $4.56 million in damages last year in a landmark case after Bauer Media – publisher of Women’s Day and The Australian Women’s Weekly – was found to have defamed her in a series of articles she described in court last year as a “malicious, deliberate take-down” of her character.
The articles, published in Woman’s Day, Women’s Weekly, OK Magazine and New Weekly in 2015 said that Ms Wilson had publicly lied about her age, real name and upbringing.
Ms Wilson appeared in the Court of Appeals this morning in Melbourne, alongside her lawyers and family.
Supreme Court Judge John Dixon said in the trial last year that the extent of defamation in the case was “unprecedented in this country” because of the articles’ global reach.
“At trial and in the full media glare, Bauer Media tried to characterise its article as true, or as trivial, or as not likely to be taken seriously,” he said.
“Substantial vindication can only be achieved by an award of damages that underscores Ms Wilson’s reputation as an actress of integrity was wrongly damaged in a manner that affected her marketability in a huge worldwide marketplace.”
Ms Wilson was awarded $650,000 in general damages and $3,917,472 in special damages – the largest payout for defamation damages in Australian legal history.
Soon after, Bauer announced it intended to appeal the payout figure.
The publisher believes the general damages awarded were "manifestly excessive" compared to other mass media defamation payments and will also challenge the finding that Ms Wilson lost film roles as a result of the publications.
Today Bauer argued the court should review the $650,000 in non-economic losses Ms Wilson was awarded last year.
Ms Wilson has spent approximately $1.5 million on the trial and wants majority of the costs repaid.