In this defamation proceeding between two surgeons, the plaintiff applied for leave to deliver interrogatories and to strike out parts of the defence.
The interrogatories sought by the plaintiff were in a form commonly administered in New South Wales when defences of qualified privilege are pleaded. The Court did not accept this was sufficient reason to grant leave to deliver the interrogatories under the Queensland Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (Qld), noting various procedural differences between Queensland and New South Wales in relation to disclosure and pleadings in that regard. Ultimately the Court refused the plaintiff’s application for interrogatories because the interrogatories concerned matters that were addressed in the defendant’s pleading, were within the knowledge of the plaintiff, or otherwise were unnecessary or oppressive.
The plaintiff’s application to strike out parts of the defence concerned allegations that were pleaded in support of a qualified privilege defence. The allegations concerned the sources of information relied upon by the defendant in making his publication. The plaintiff argued that the pleading was objectionable because it asserted the objective truth of those sources of information, in circumstances where no truth defence was pleaded. The Court rejected this reading of the pleading and dismissed the strike out application, holding that the pleaded allegations were relevant to the reasonableness of the defendant’s conduct for the purpose of his qualified privilege defence.
Michael May appeared for the defendent, instructed by Cooper Grace Ward.
The judgment is available here.