Dennis Denuto…

As this blog’s name references the wonderful Australian film The Castle, I thought it was important to let everyone know that its well meaning but bumbling solicitor, Dennis Denuto, has now been immortalised in the Queensland District Court.

In Smith v Lucht [2015] QDC 289 (20 November 2015) a messy family law matter was the basis for a defamation action by a solicitor against his daughter-in-law’s ex husband for calling him “Dennis Denuto”.  There is now grave judicial pronouncement that:

There is little in the film to indicate how the character Dennis Denuto conducted other cases, his general experience and skills (other than his claim he did “small stuff”), or his client base. He was not characterised as unethical; however he was portrayed as incompetent and unprofessional in the scene set in the Federal Court. The reasonable reader or listener would understand the ordinary and natural meaning of the words ‘Dennis Denuto’ to include by implication or inference the defamatory imputation that the plaintiff is incompetent and unprofessional

However:

the circumstances of publication were such that the plaintiff was unlikely to sustain any harm to his reputation as the statements were confined to two members of his family with whom the defendant was in dispute, and they were able to make their own assessment of the imputation.

In so holding Moynihan QC DCJ did not take into account the widespread press coverage of the legal action (which if his Honour had would have resulted in an award of $10,000 damages).

Alex Steel

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