Television New Zealand and the newspaper publisher APN have lost an appeal about the way they can plead their case in a long running defamation suit.
The case, brought by Simunovich Fisheries, stems from stories in The New Zealand Herald dating back five years and TVNZ"s current affairs prorgramme Assignment.
The stories were about scampi fishing quotas and accusations of corruption surrounding the administration of them.
Simunovich Fisheries is claiming substantial damages against the companies for defamation and malicious falsehood.
In a reserved decision issued on Wednesday, the Supreme Court has ruled TVNZ and APN cannot rely on allegations or opinion to back a defence of truth or honest opinion.
The judgement says a defendant can rely only on objectively proveable facts.
The case between Simunovich and the two companies is set down for October next year.