Yesterday the New South Wales Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal from three newspapers against a decision awarding international cricketer Chris Gayle AUD$300,000 for a string defamatory articles that were published about Mr Gayle that alleged he had indecently exposed himself to a team masseuse in a dressing room at a suburban oval in Sydney. The NSW Court of Appeal also dismissed a cross appeal from Mr Gayle where he contended that he should be entitled to more damages. 

The decision is the latest in a series of high profile Australian defamation decisions that have come with a big price tag.  In May 2019 Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush was awarded a record AUD$2.9million in damages by an Australian court in respect of defamatory articles that alleged inappropriate conduct by Mr Rush towards a female actress. The decision is under appeal. 

The Rush decision follows the 2017 and 2018 Australian decisions relating to actress Rebel Wilson where she was initially awarded AUD$4.5million for magazine articles published painting her as a serial liar. The amount was later reduced on appeal to AUD$600,000. 

It will be interesting to see whether we start seeing this level of damages awards in the England & Wales courts.  We've certainly been seeing that privacy awards are on the rise over here, and perhaps defamation awards will follow suit.