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Bauer Media rebels against $4.56m payout

Bauer Media has confirmed it will appeal the Victorian Supreme Court decision which awarded actress Rebel Wilson $4.56 million in damages for defamation.

The magazine publisher will now appear before the Melbourne Court of Appeal in an attempt to have the amount reduced.

In a statement released today, Bauer Media general counsel Adrian Gross said: “It’s important for us to revisit this unprecedented decision on the quantum of damages.”

Wilson sued the company for eight articles which appeared in Woman’s Day in 2015 that she said labelled her a serial liar. She was awarded general and aggravated damages of $650,000 and special damages of $3,917,472 for income loss in the largest payout in Australian defamation history.

The magazine publisher believes that the damages awarded have “broad implications for the media industry”.

When handing down his decision on September 14, Justice John Dixon criticised Bauer Media’s poor research and false allegations.

“Bauer Media failed to properly investigate, before publishing them, allegations that they regarded as defamatory that were made by a source that required both anonymity and payment.

“Bauer Media knew the imputations they conveyed were false, but they proceeded to publish nonetheless … it did not care whether the plaintiff suffered reputational damage as it pursued its own corporate interests.”

Justice Dixon said the damage to Wilson’s reputation and financial losses as a result of the articles warranted the inflated amount.

“Substantial damages are necessary to compensate her,” he said.

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