Law of Communication (UG)

Law of Communication (UG).

1. Assignments must be undertaken individually.
2. Assignment papers must be typed and in Microsoft Word format, not PDF (this is to enable individual feedback to be provided).
3. Assignment papers must be submitted electronically via Moodle by 9am, Saturday 24 September 2016. Students will be penalised for late submissions (5% per day, up to seven days after which time submissions will not be accepted).
4. Assignment papers must contain the completed cover sheet available on Moodle.
5. Assignment papers must contain a bibliography and conform with the Australian Guide to Legal Citation and Canberra Law Review Style Guide (ie. must use footnoting).
6. Refer to Moodle for the assessment criteria, the Unit Outline for the late policy, and the University of Canberra assignment policies for academic integrity guidance. Plagiarism will not be tolerated.
7. All questions in all parts must be answered, to a maximum of 2400 words in total (not +10%). The individual marks for each question are indicated below, and students should use this as a guide for how many words to dedicate to each question.
8. Read the questions and facts carefully! Only address the questions you have been asked.


Ella Enlightened is a student at the University of Canberra. She is studying a double degree in law and communications, and is determined to find a way to combine the two in her future career. She is particularly passionate about exposing Government cover-ups, and has a poster of Julian Assange on her bedroom wall.

Ella joins forces with fellow communications student, Matthew Motherboard, who happens to be an IT guru. Together, they establish a website called Canberra-Leaks, which is intended to be a forum for them to publish Government documents and information that has not officially been released to the public. The website is hosted in the United States, but they operate it from their rooms on campus in Canberra. It is open to the public, and does not require a subscription for access.

Unfortunately, Ella and Matthew don?t know any public servants, nor do they know anyone who might have copies of juicy Government documents or information. They approach a few friends of friends at parties and other events, but no one is willing to talk to them. They think it?s because Canberra-Leaks has not yet built up the same reputation as other expos? websites.

Ella and Matthew are brainstorming in the short term loans section of the library when Tom Trustworthy runs up to them.

Tom: Guys, seriously, you?re not going to believe what a run of bad luck I?m having!
Ella: Try us ? it can?t be any worse than ours.
Tom: Ok, you know how I?m engaged to Sally Straight? Well, on the weekend she was in Sydney with her dad and I hooked up with this hot chick Greta Giggles. I?m really not sure what I should do ? should I tell Sally or just leave it?
Matthew: I don?t know Tom, we?ve got too much to worry about without taking on your problems too.
Tom: Gee, thanks for the friendly advice. Fine, I?ll work it out myself ? just don?t tell anyone will you.
Ella: Yeah ok, get lost Tom.

When Tom leaves, Matthew turns to Ella with a big smile on his face ?You know that Sally is the daughter of Senator Sam Straight, the Minister for Community Wellbeing? How about our first story be about Senator Straight and his long suffering daughter?! Ella enthusiastically agrees, and they publish the following article on Canberra-Leaks that night:

Sally left broken hearted by Tom Not-so-Trustworthy ? But is her bad luck hereditary?
Sally Straight, daughter of the formidable Senator, has been left heartbroken after becoming aware of her cheating boyfriend?s antics. After spending the weekend in Sydney with her father for a Department of Community Wellbeing function, Tom hit the town ? in his words ?hooking up with this hot chick Greta Giggles?.

Mind you, bad luck seems to run in that family with Sally?s long-suffering mother facing the same problems with her father, the also not-so-trustworthy Senator. The good Senator has cheated on his wife many times, and this begs the question ? if he?ll cheat on his wife, will he also cheat on us? The answer is probably ?yes?.

In the meantime, Ella submits a request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) for a copy of Senator Straight?s diary for that weekend. While she didn?t really have anything on which to base her allegations of Sam?s affair, she figures if they are ever questioned on the truth of the article, she?ll be able to use his recorded absence as evidence.

It doesn?t take long for social media to catch on to the website and by the end of the next day, everyone is talking about Canberra-Leaks and the article. Igor Integrity, a journalist with The Canberra Tribune newspaper, is horrified at what he reads on Canberra-Leaks. He knows Senator Sam and his family well, and while he doesn?t know whether what he read is true, he certainly feels sorry for the family?s personal lives being exposes like that. He writes an opinion piece which starts with the following sentence:

There is only ad hoc protection of privacy under Australian law. This is a significant flaw of the Australian legal system.


Part 1 ? Problem questions

(1) Have Ella and Matthew defamed Senator Sam in their online article ?Sally left broken hearted by Tom Not-so-Trustworthy ? But is her bad luck hereditary?? and are any defences available to them? In your answer, discuss any jurisdictional issues that arise in relation to Canberra-Leaks. (10 marks)
(2) Have Ella and Matthew breached Tom?s confidentiality? Are any defences to an action for breach of confidence be available to Ella and Matthew? (6 marks)
(3) Is Canberra-Leaks bound by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)? Why / why not? (2 marks)
(4) Does Ella have a right to access Senator Sam?s diary under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth)? Why / why not (2 marks)
(5) Is everything that Ella and Matthew have written protected by a broad constitutional right to freedom of speech? Why / why not? (2 marks)

Part 2 – Essay Question
(6) Critically analyse Igor?s statement ?There is only ad hoc protection of privacy under Australian law. This is a significant flaw of the Australian legal system?. Is he right in his summation of the law? Do you agree with his conclusion? (15 marks)

**An additional 3 marks will be allocated for presentation,
including a bibliography, appropriate footnoting and a completed coversheet**

Assessment Criteria for each Assessment Item

Fig 5: Mid-Semester Assignment and End of Semester Take-Home Examination assessment criteria
Criteria Factors Examined
Communication ? Correct syntax, grammar and spelling.
? Clarity of thought and expression.
? Presented in a clear and logical structure.
Demonstrated knowledge of
the law ? Identifies and recites the particular legal issues and legal principles raised by the question, including what legislation and what case law is relevant.
? Demonstrates an understanding of the scope and operation of the relevant legal issues and legal principles.
? Goes beyond recommended readings / evidence of wider reading and research.
Analytical skills ? Applies the appropriate legal issues and legal principles to the question.
? Evaluates the legal arguments on either side and reaches a logical conclusion.
? Identifies any relevant legal policy issues (eg. legal vs moral arguments).
Presentation ? Typed, justified text, bibliography.
? Correct citations of cases and legislation.
? Layout / setting out (use of appropriate headings – clarity, ease of reading).
? Conformity with Canberra Law Review Style Guide and formal requirements expressed in the Unit Outline and assessment item cover sheet.

Law of Communication (UG)

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