NSW ferry passenger wins defamation appeal

Margaret Scheikowski

A NSW passenger who sued a ferry operator for implying he was justifiably banned from the service has won his appeal although judges found any damages would probably be "extremely limited".

Nader Mohareb sued Taylor Booth in the NSW District Court claiming he was defamed twice in 2015 during their exchanges in front of other passengers travelling on the Church Point to Scotland Island ferry.

The judge in April 2019 found the operator had made statements implying Mr Mohareb was justifiably banned from travelling on the ferry and that they were defamatory.

But the judge found in favour of Mr Booth upholding his defence based on having made an "offer to make amends".

The NSW Court of Appeal on Friday allowed Mr Mohareb's challenge, finding the original judge erred in concluding that the lapse of a year before the making of the offer was "as soon as reasonably practicable".

Justices John Basten and Richard White and Acting Justice Carolyn Simpson ordered the case be returned to the District Court for damages to be assessed.

"Although there is no evidence before this court which would provide a basis for assessing damages, it is possible that they would be a small sum," they said.

"The fact that the likely damages would be extremely limited is not, in those circumstances, a sufficient reason for refusing the applicant leave to appeal."