A Brisbane District Court Judge has ruled that calling a solicitor “Dennis Denuto” can be defamatory, after a lawyer sued a man for using the name of the character in movie The Castle to refer to him in an email. In the judgment of the case, Justice Tony Moynihan explained exactly who Denuto is, saying the character played by Tiriel Mora was “portrayed as likeable and well-intentioned, but inexperienced in matters of constitutional law and not qualified to appear in person in litigation of that nature”.

His appearance in the Federal Court portrayed him as unprepared, lacking in knowledge and judgment, incompetent and unprofessional. His submission concerning ‘the vibe’ is a well-known line from the film.”

The plaintiff, Brett Clayton Smith, said that the “natural and ordinary meaning” of the words Dennis Denuto meant a lawyer who was unprofessional, inexperienced and unethical, among other shortcomings.

Smith had attempted to claim $250,000 in damages, but someone should have told him he was dreaming. He lost the case as the judge said “at the time they were made, the statements did not cause [the people the email was sent to] to think less of the plaintiff and there was little chance of republication”.

There was no mention of photocopiers, or how well they worked, in the judgment.

The Castle photocopier

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey