Rebel Wilson back in court as Bauer fights record $4.5m damages bill

Rebel Wilson has returned to court in Melbourne to fight an appeal by magazine publisher Bauer Media, which was last year found to have defamed the Hollywood star.

The Pitch Perfect actress sat in the front row of the Court of Appeal’s Green Court on Wednesday morning, flanked by her family and lawyers.

Ms Wilson 38, was awarded a record $4.56 million last year after Bauer – publisher of Woman’s Day and The Australian Women’s Weekly – was found to have defamed her in a series of articles that painted her as a serial liar.

The payout was the largest for a defamation damages bill in Australian legal history.

On Wednesday, the court heard Bauer Media does not wish to challenge the jury’s verdict from last year, which found the company had defamed the Hollywood star.

However, the magazine giant wishes to have the economic damages of $3.9 million set aside on the basis of ‘‘errors of fact and law’’.

‘‘The evidence did not support the trial judge’s award,’’ Bauer Media’s barrister Michael Wheelahan, QC told the court.

‘‘Damages were manifestly excessive.’’

Bauer argued the Court of Appeal should also reassess the $650,000 in non-economic losses Ms Wilson was awarded last year.

Following a Supreme Court of Victoria trial last June, Justice John Dixon said Bauer wrongly damaged Wilson's "reputation as an actress of integrity".

He ordered them to pay the 38-year-old a record $4.5 million in damages – $650,000 in general damages and $3,917,472 in special damages.

Justice Dixon said a substantial amount was required to vindicate the star.

The publisher was expected to challenge the finding that a "cap" on general damages does not apply because there was an award of aggravated damages.

Bauer was also planning to argue the general damages award is excessive compared to other mass media defamation payments.

In addition, Bauer will challenge the finding that Wilson needed to be compensated for film roles she claimed to have lost as a result of the publications, claiming there's not enough evidence.

The Hollywood star landed in Australia on Monday. She is due to co-host The Project on Network Ten on Thursday evening.