Trkulja v Google LLC [2018] HCA 25 (13 June 2018): Defamation, publication, summary dismissal, imputations arising out search engine results

September 2, 2018

The High Court in Trkulja v Google LLC [2018] HCA 25 upheld an appeal from the Victorian Court of Appeal regarding a summary judgment application. It is a very significant decision in relation to pleading the of defamation when the imputations arise from search engine results.


While not enamoured of the drafting the Court noted that the Appellant’s (Trkulja”) Amended Statement of Claim was  sufficiently comprehensible to convey that Trkulja alleged that:

  • Google defamed him by publishing images which convey imputations that he:
    • “is a hardened and serious criminal in Melbourne”, in the same league as figures such as “convicted murderer” Carl Williams, “underworld killer” Andrew “Benji” Veniamin, “notorious murderer” Tony Mokbel and “Mafia Boss” Mario Rocco Condello;
    • is an associate of Veniamin, Williams and Mokbel; and
    • is “such a significant figure in the Melbourne criminal underworld that events involving him are recorded on a website that chronicles crime in [the] Melbourne criminal underworld”[3].
  • Google published the defamatory images between 1 December 2012 and 3 March 2014 to persons in Victoria, including several named persons, upon those persons accessing the Google website, searching for  Trkulja’s name or alias (Michael Trkulja and Milorad Trkulja), and then viewing and perceiving the images presented on-screen in response to the search [4].
  • the allegedly defamatory matters  comprising two groups:
    • “the Google Images matter” and
    • “the Google Web matter” [5]
  • some of the pages include an image that contains text stating, inter alia, “Google lawsuit in court”, “COLOURFUL Melbourne identity Michael Trkulja” and “Mr Trkulja an associate of Mick Gatto” [7]
  •  the images matter and the web matter are defamatory of  Trkulja in their natural and ordinary meaning and  carry the following defamatory imputations:

Read the rest of this entry »

Culve Engineering Pty Ltd v Apollo General Engineering (Aust) Pty Ltd (in liq) [2017] VSCA 182 (7 July 2017): power to make a substitution order, exercise of discretion, Rule 9.09 of the Civil Procedure Rules

July 23, 2017

The Victorian Court of Appeal in Culve Engineering Pty Ltd v Apollo General Engineering (Aust) Pty Ltd (in liq) [2017] VSCA 182 considered the scope and operation of Rules to permit a substitution order being made.


The third applicant, Sandra Cerrato, was the executrix of the deceased estate of her father, Rocco Cerrato who . Mr Cerrato died on 14 August 2014 [1]. Prior to and in  2010 Mr Cerrato was a director of the first applicant, Culve Engineering Pty Ltd (‘Culve Engineering’), the second applicant, Tena Denham Nominees Pty Ltd (‘Tena Denham’), and the first respondent, Apollo General Engineering (Aust) Pty Ltd (in liquidation) (‘Apollo’) [2]. Ms Cerrato was joined as a defendant to this proceeding in her capacity as executrix in substitution for her father by an order made by an associate judge on 18 September 2015. She and the other applicants unsuccessfully appealed that decision to a judge in the Trial Division [3].

Prior to 21 April 2010 Apollo carried on Read the rest of this entry »

Golden Taste Investment Pty Ltd v Laurence & Ors [2016] VSC 250 (16 May 2016): Summary judgment application by plaintiff

May 17, 2016

In Golden Taste Investment Pty Ltd v Laurence & Ors [2016] VSC 250 Derham AsJ considered the plaintiff’s application for summary judgment under section 63 of the Civil Procedure Act 2010.


The plaintiff is the master franchisee for the Cacao Green and Red Mango franchises for Australia and operates retail stores in Victoria selling frozen yogurt and coffee products [2].

The first defendant (‘Daniel’) was a director and Read the rest of this entry »

Re Manlio (No 2) [2016] VSC 130 (8 April 2016): Overarching obligations, Civil Procedure Act, ss 16, 18, 21 – 23 and 29

April 11, 2016

In Re Manlio (No 2) [2016] VSC 130 Justice MacDonald took quite serious action under powers under the Civil Procedure Act 2010 (the “CPA”) with significant consequences for a counsel involved in the case. This decision relates to the conduct of the legal representatives, not the substantive case itself. That decision was handed down on 21 December 2015 in Re Manlio [2015] VSC 733.

It is a particularly informative decision as to Read the rest of this entry »

B J Bearings Pty Ltd v Whitehead [2016] VSC 44 (11 February 2016): preliminary discovery, Rules 32.05

February 18, 2016

In B J Bearings Pty Ltd v Whitehead [2016] VSC 44 Hargrave J considered an application for preliminary discovery and set out the applicable principles.  It is a useful Read the rest of this entry »

Civil Procedure Amendment Act 2012 assented to and to come into effect on 1 May 2013

January 7, 2013

The Civil Procedure Amendment Act 2012 will come into effect on 1 May 2013.

The key amendments relate to orders the court may make on costs, the conduct of experts and expert reports and amendments to the certification process.  Those provisions as well as the explanatory memoranda are extracted below. The transitional provisions are not extracted below.

 The material amendments are:

Part 4.5 of Chapter 4 (Costs)

65A Order to legal practitioner as to length and costs of trial 

(1)     A court may Read the rest of this entry »

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE Costs sought by defendants against plaintiff’s solicitors, indemnity costs; Cohen v State of Victoria & Ors (No 3) [2011] VSC 229 (2 June 2011)

June 7, 2011

In Cohen v State of Victoria Nos 3 (“Cohen”) Forrest J ordered indemnity costs against solicitor for the plaintiff, Oldham Naidoo, arising out of the application by the defendants in Cohen v State of Victoria No 2 which resulted in the proceedng being struck out as an abuse of process (which I reviewed here).


The relevant conduct upon which the court exercised its discretion is set out at [5]:

(a) the issuing of the proceeding on 24 December 2008 in the name of Dr Cohen without obtaining his instructions or authorisation to do so;

(b) the maintenance of the claim (for nearly two years) in the name of Dr Cohen without any communication to him advising that he was the named representative plaintiff and therefore the subject of a number of obligations including that imposed by s 33ZD of the Supreme Court Act 1986 (Vic);

(c) the incurring of a number of costs orders against Dr Cohen – none of which were brought to his attention;

(d) the making of an allegation in the statement of claim central to Dr Cohen’s “claim” which, upon any reasonable investigation, was demonstrably false.



The key issues for consideration was whether there should be an award of costs against a legal practitioner acting without the authority of the client and, if so, whether to grant those costs on an indemnity rather than a party/party basis. In support of the former proposition Forrest J referred to the English  case of Fricker v Van  Glutten where his honour Read the rest of this entry »

Practice and procedure, pleadings required to define issues, procedural fairness to defendants,obligations on legal practitioners to assist the Court, model litigant;Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria v Scully & Ors (No 2) [2011] VSC 239 (1 June 2011)

June 6, 2011

On 3 June Hargrave J made an interim ruling as to the further conduct proceedings in Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria v Scully & Ors (No 2) (Scully).  It is an important decision in considering the approach the court should take to civil prosecutions brought by the Director of Consumer affairs under the Fair trading Act.


The proceedings relate to two schemes promoted by Scully and others designed to allow consumers with financial problems to acquire their own home without a deposit or finance from banks or financial institutions in the short term [8].  The Director brought an action under sections 9, 11 and 12 of the Fair Trading Act in the public interest and representing the interests of certain individuals who participated in the schemes.  There were no pleadings and Associate Justice Daley dismissed an application to order a statement of claim [10 at footnote 1].

On 10 May 2011 the trial was adjourned, part heard, until 26 July 2011. The court called the parties back because of concerns as to the course the trial was taking.  His Honour was concerned that since the proceedings had been issued the nature of the allegations were contained across and originating motion, numbering 50 pages but drawn in broad terms, voluminous affidavit material, running to 11,000 pages over 26 volumes, and written outline of submissions which was at “..a high level of generality” [10]. As a consequence the court was reliant upon the Director and his legal representatives to identify his case, which the did not occur in the first four days of trial [11]. His Honour was quite critical of the assistance provided by the Director (see [15]) saying “..the Court requires significantly greater assistance from the Director than has been provided to date.”

The court was of the view that pleadings were necessary to define the many issues in the case and avoid possible injustice to the defendants ([3][4]).



At [26] the Court cited Mason and Gauldron’s statement in Banque Commerciale SA v Akhil Holdings Ltd that the function of pleadings “ to Read the rest of this entry »

Civil Procedure Act 2010 – Section 1

October 28, 2010

The Civil Procedure Act willbe proclaimed on 1 January 2011. It will have a significant impact on litigators, both solicitors and counsel, approach and conduct litigation in Victorian Courts and Tribunals.

I will be  providing occasional posts on the  operation of the Act over the next 6 weeks. I have included the second reading speech in its entirety below.

This post focuses on section 1 of the Act. For practitioners the relevant provisons are section 1(2)  is the most relevant provision.  At least in the early stages of this process these provisions will be important in applying the rules of procedure.

It provides

Chapter 1—Preliminary

1   Purposes

(1)  The main purposes of this Act are—

(a)  to reform and modernise the laws, practice, procedure and processes relating to the resolution of civil disputes which may lead to civil proceedings and to civil proceedings in the Supreme Court, the County Court and the Magistrates’ Court and provide for uniformity;

(b)  to simplify the language relating to civil procedure;

(c)  to provide for an overarching purpose in relation to the conduct of civil proceedings to facilitate the just, efficient, timely and cost-effective resolution of the real issues in dispute;

(d)  to amend various Acts in relation to the conduct of civil proceedings to reflect the new procedures.

(2)        Without limiting subsection (1), this Act provides for—

(a) overarching obligations for participants in civil proceedings to improve standards of conduct in litigation;

(b)  the facilitation of the resolution of disputes before civil proceedings are commenced;

(c)  the enhancement of case management powers of the courts, including in relation to discovery;

(d)  further enhancement of appropriate dispute resolution processes;

(e)  reform of the law relating to summary judgment;

(f)  clarifying sanctions available to courts in relation to contravention of discovery obligations.

The explanatory memorandum provides:

This Chapter sets out the purpose of the Bill, when the Bill commences,
definitions for terms used and the application of the Bill.

Clause 1   provides  Read the rest of this entry »

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