Credit reporting agency covered by qualified privilege: Walker v Veda Advantage Information Services and Solutions Ltd & Anor [2011] QSC 316

The plaintiff was an applicant for credit. The first defendant a credit reporting

Veda logo: the credit reporters

agency and the second defendant was a previous creditor of the plaintiff. The plaintiff sued the agency for defamation arising from what he claimed was the publication of false reports that had been lodged by the second defendant in 2004. The plaintiff applied for credit from another financier in 2009 and was declined. As a result, the plaintiff claimed he lost $250,000 for non-economic loss and $1.98 million for future economic loss and loss of income.

The plaintiff applied to amend his statement of claim and also sue for negligence. The first defendant applied for summary judgment.

The credit reporting agency claimed that the publication was covered by qualified privilege because credit providers had an interest and the reporting agency had a social, moral and legal duty to pass on information to credit providers. The problem for the plaintiff was that this defence had already been run by the credit provider in the Federal Court in 2009 in a case called Dale: and the credit reporting agency won.

Mainly as a result of the Dale case, it was held that the credit provider had a complete defence and summary judgment was awarded. If not for that case, summary judgment would have been declined. It was also confirmed that the plaintiff could not sue in negligence when his cause of action was in defamation. The two could not overlap.

In any event, the reporting agency was vindicated by the Federal Court and vindicated again by the Queensland Supreme Court.