Rebel Wilson leaves the Melbourne Supreme Court after the jury came back in favour of the actress in her defamation trial against Bauer Media last year. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian
Rebel Wilson leaves the Melbourne Supreme Court after the jury came back in favour of the actress in her defamation trial against Bauer Media last year. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian

Rebel Wilson faces huge bill over appeal

ACTOR Rebel Wilson could be left out of pocket in a fight for the record damages awarded to her over a series of defamatory articles in Women's Day, legal experts have warned.

The Pitch Perfect star faces a massive costs bill after the magazine's publisher Bauer Media won its appeal against the unprecedented $4.5 million damages award, with a court cutting that to $600,000.

Lawyers for Wilson and Bauer Media have until tomorrow to file written submissions on who should pay the appeals costs, after the ruling was handed down last week in the Victorian Court of Appeal.

Wilson is expected to have to pay the lion's share of Bauer's legal bill as well as her own, estimated to be up to $100,000 each.

Bauer Media did not challenge the jury's verdict that Wilson was defamed by the articles in 2015 that painted her as a serial liar.

Rebel Wilson has attacked the appeal court’s decision to cut her damages. Picture: AAP Image/Luis Ascui
Rebel Wilson has attacked the appeal court’s decision to cut her damages. Picture: AAP Image/Luis Ascui

Wilson has attacked the appeal court's decision to cut her damages, and flagged that she will appeal against that decision to the High Court - which could land her with an even bigger legal bill should she lose.

"The cost of proceedings is so expensive that the reduction in the award will reduce the amount she will recover from Baurer," defamation lawyer Patrick George said yesterday.

"And if she goes ahead with an appeal, that could reduce the amount even more unless she overturns the Court of Appeal decision."

Bauer Media had been ordered to pay 80 per cent of Wilson's estimated $1.4 million costs, including a security guard at court, during the defamation trial - leaving her with a legal bill for about $180,000.

If she is ordered to pay both her own and Bauer's costs of the appeal, that could take a further $200,000 from the reduced $600,000 damages.

"We will have to wait to see what the court orders to see if she will be worse off," law firm Bennett+Co defamation consultant Michael Douglas said.

Wilson had pledged to donate her damages to charity, posting on social media after the latest decision: "That's now $4 million less going to less fortunate Australians and leaves a billionaire corporation, proven guilty of malicious defamation, being able to get away with their seriously harmful acts for a very low payday."

Wilson would have to show that the case involves a point of law to persuade the High Court to hear any appeal but even the costs of mounting that argument will be expensive.