Adequacy of pleading, Foreign language defamation, need to plead precise words used and precise translation, publications not adequately pleaded and particularised; Maietti v Riccardi [2011] VSC 620 (2 December 2011)

December 2, 2011 |

In Maietti v Riccardi [2011] VSC 620 Beach J considered the requirements for properly pleading conversations, and where they are in a foreign language, provide proper translations.


The paragraph of hte statement of claim provided:

“On several occasions between August and October 2010, during the course of telephone conversations conducted in the Italian language which the defendant had with Paolo Sepe in the State of Victoria the defendant spoke the following defamatory words of and concerning the plaintiff, namely, words to the effect that the plaintiff:

(a) as treasurer of the Association [Laziali Nel Mondo Victoria Australia] had misappropriated its funds;

(b) as treasurer of the Association had stolen its funds;

(c) as treasurer of the Association, was responsible for the fact that funds were missing from the Association’s bank account;

(d) as treasurer of the Association had falsely claimed that he had spent $500 of the Association’s funds purchasing postage stamps on behalf of the Association.”



His Honour said, at [7], that the settled relevant practice on pleading was:

(a) first, each conversation sued upon be identified (and with appropriate specificity);

(b) secondly, the precise words used in the relevant foreign language in each conversation must be pleaded; and

(c) thirdly, precise translations of each conversation into English must be provided.

The result of complying with those precepts would be:

with respect to each conversation, then specify the meanings said to arise from the words spoken in such conversation. It may be that one conversation was more limited than another and would not of itself give rise to all the imputations pleaded. Further, it is only by pleading the claim in this way that the defendant can give proper attention to which (if any) defences might be available in respect of each publication.

Dates should be provided but if they can not be given with specific detail then other particulars of the conversation should be provided so that the conversation and the occasion can be identified (see [11]).  The obligation is to provide the the best particulars of each conversation that the plaintiff is capable of providing (see [12]),  In this case the issue regarding dates was that the one year limitation period may apply and some of the allegations may be statute barred.



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