Defamation

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Forums Disputes and litigation Defamation

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  • #398662
    Ali
    Member

    Dear Amanda,

    A Strata Committee member sent an email to the Strata Managing Agent, the Building Manager and other members of the Strata Committee, which she asked to be kept on file. This email was sent in July 2020. The email satisfies all the criteria for defamation of me. I did not realise this email existed until I searched the Strata Records and came across it in Correspondence. Our Strata is connected to two other Strata and we are therefore governed by a Strata Management Statement. Within this statement we have a section for dispute resolutions, which begin with resolving the dispute through good faith before the formal process begins. The process goes through negotiation, before it escalates to mediation at the Resolution Institute. The person involved with writing the email, will not act in good faith and says the issue is a civil matter. The Strata Management Statement clearly states that

    OBLIGATIONS OF STRATA LOT OWNERS

    A Strata Lot Owner must:

    (a) promptly comply with their obligations under any applicable law, this management statement, the Codes and any Rules

    I am dealing with the dispute under this section as the person is an individual lot owner and doesn’t deserve the legal assistance from the owner’s corporation.

    If the process is ignored by the respondent, could I go to NCAT and what would be the likely outcome?

    Kind Regards,

    #398755
    Amanda Farmer
    Expert

    Hi Ali,

    What would you be seeking from NCAT?

    NCAT can’t determine a defamation case, so if that’s the route you’re thinking, that’s via the courts, not NCAT.

    If you’re seeking compliance with a by-law or particular provision of the SMS, then yes NCAT is probably the place, but it’s important to be clear on what outcome you’re seeking.

    Amanda.

    #398779
    Ali
    Member

    Hi Amanda,

    Yes I would require that we go through the process as set out in the Strata Management Statement, which means we go to mediation in the Resolution Institute. I have indicated to the person that a simple apology to me and the removal of the email from the records will see the issue resolved, but she refuses to negotiate according to our Strata Management Statement. I have told the person involved if negotiation cannot be achieved within the 10 business days specified within the SMS, then I will require $500 deposited into my account (being half the cost of going to the Resolution Institute) so mediation can occur according to the SMS. If this time passes with no response and no deposition of funds, then I intend on going to NCAT to have the matter resolved. Does this sound fair enough and if so how do you think NCAT will rule?

    Kind Regards,

     

    #398903
    Amanda Farmer
    Expert

    Hi Ali,

    If this disputes relates to an owner within your own strata scheme, I’m not sure how the SMS is relevant. That’s a document intended to govern operations between each of the stratum parcels (in your case, I believe, a number of strata schemes?) It’s hard to say without reading the entirety of your SMS.

    An order from NCAT that one lot owner apologise to another would be a novel one, though I am not saying it can’t happen. Since the Vickery decision, we know that our Tribunal has very broad powers to resolve complaints.

    But I have to say, I don’t think NCAT is going to let you run what is essentially a defamation case by another name before it.

    If you are intent on going to NCAT, you’d be better placed to reference a provision in your own strata scheme by-laws that may be relevant – eg: do you have something along the lines – a lot owner must comply with the law?

    Amanda.

     

    #398985
    Ali
    Member

    Hi Amanda,

    Our Strata is part of a Community Association which has a crazy by-law that says residents must not do anything that might damage the good reputation of the Community Association. I suppose I could survey the local community and ask them –  Do you think the following behaviour might damage the good reputation of the ………………….?

    A member of a Strata Committee published a defamatory email to other members of the Strata Committee, the Strata Manager and the Building Manager concerning my alleged behaviour and asked for this email to be added to the correspondence of the Strata Records. The email satisfies all the criteria for defamation.  My Building Management Committee and the three associated Strata Committees have passed motions to have a Lawyer investigate my behaviour based on rumour and innuendo. I have uncovered alleged mismanagement within the Building Management Committee and have an impending case before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. If it is proven that members of the Strata Committee have acted with dishonesty and deception, then do you think this behaviour might damage the good reputation of the ……………………..? Please email a simple yes or no to the email below.

    What do you think?

    Kind Regards,

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