Sunday, 17 June 2007

Hatred, ridicule or contempt

That is, the now-notorious case John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd v Gacic. And hasn't there been a lot of ink spilled over this in the last couple of days? I particularly like the hyperbole of The Guardian's précis "Australian court opens the way for restaurants to claim damages over unfavourable reviews".


At best it would "open the way" for Australian plaintiffs. Given that English defamation law gives defendants much more latitude, it's not likely to have much impact there. And given that England is pretty much the only lively defamation jurisdiction in the world, here and there is about the extent of any legal shockwaves.

Furthermore, the analyses of the case so far (I do use that term lightly - there's not much good legal reporting about) haven't been very incisive. The case concerned the Defamation Act 1974 (NSW) - which is now defunct, since the uniform defamation laws came into effect. I haven't gone through the High Court's decision with care to consider if and how the case would stand under the new Act, but it might be different. NSW had a somewhat idiosyncratic system.

Secondly, although lazy journalists have picked up on the odd judicial remark about business reputation being susceptible to the various tests that an imputation is defamatory, the High Court's decision seems to hinge on more technical aspects such as whether an appellate court could substitute a jury's verdict. If anything, the case is more about the powers of the NSW Supreme Court. I.e., really, really dull. The High Court was just deciding on the basis of the legal framework, not on defamation law generally.

The High Court's decision is NOT about whether you're verboten from writing critical things in a restaurant review. If the lazy journalists had read the headnote of the decision, they'd realise that. But not much of a headline, I suppose.

I won't say anything with great certainty, because I've only skim-read the judgments, but I don't think this case is worth people getting their knickers in a twist. It's crummy for Matthew Evans (okay, Fairfax, since they're footing the bill) but I doubt it'll "open the way" for anything.

(ETA: I feel I should apologise on behalf of my law degree for my own lack of critical insight into the case. I even studied defamation law, so I should be able to say something a bit cleverer. Oh well!)

Saturday, 9 June 2007


I have a Literature Review for my MA to revise/edit/make less rubbish, so of course I'm blogging. I shall deceive myself into thinking that I just need to give myself a bit of time for the essay-writing-crack-cocaine (i.e. Diet Coke - I know, dreadful) to kick in...

It's not even a new thing that I'm updating about. It's an apple and quince tart I made in April. The apples were Granny Smiths. Underneath are sliced quinces, which you can just see. The quinces were poached with a split vanilla pod (mmm, profligate) and a broken cinnamon quill. The rest of the poached quince was eaten with rice pudding the following week.

It was good, except for two things. One, I really need a metal flan tin. The ceramic Portmerion is all very pretty but it's not as good a conductor of heat so the pastry isn't as crisp. Two, I really could've done with a blowtorch to caramelise the apples (and a glaze), because the oven was remarkably useless and just sort of burnt them a bit.

You can see a little apple pie in the picture, made with excess pastry and apples - very handy and portable for taking to work, incidentally. You can also see how half-arsed my pastry lattice-work is.

Even older, is a pear bourdaloue tart I made last year. As you see, I bothered to glaze the pears with apricot jam, which is why it's a bit more attractive.

I don't actually spend all of my time making pastry, though. If I did, I'd be a lot better at it!