It used to be that statements made before private bodies were not absolutely privileged under Civil Code section 47(b). This meant that statements made at a judicial commission at a private medical society were not absolutely privileged, for example.
Noting a gap in the law, the California legislature made it such that statements made "in the initiation or course of any proceeding authorized by law," and reviewable by mandamus would be absolutely privileged. Civ. Code 47(b)(4).
In order for a proceeding to be reviewable by mandamus three elements must be present:
- a hearing is required to be given;
- evidence is required to be taken; and
- discretion in the determination of facts is vested in an inferior tribunal, corporation, board, or officer are present.
This means that statements made during grievance proceedings pursuant to collective bargaining agreements could be absolutely privileged.
This change in the law was important because it broadened the scope of the absolute privilege to quasi-judicial proceedings, which had previously not been seen by the courts as "official."