What is Defamation?

Defamation refers to the circumstances where there is any unjustified criticism that has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to one’s reputation. If a defamatory statement affects a person’s reputation, that person may have a claim against the maker of that defamatory statement for defamation.

There are two types of defamation:

  1. Libel. It refers to publishing a falsehood about someone. For instance, an article of a photograph published in daily newspaper, video recording and broadcasting of words by means of radio communication.
  2. Slander. Slander is an untrue spoken statement, which includes sign language, words shouted across a public meeting or gestures made to a crowd).

The Governing Law

In Malaysia, defamation is a civil (Defamation Act 1957) and criminal offence (Section 499 Penal Code).

    Three Essential elements to prove Defamation

  1. The statement bears defamatory imputation. Intentions of the maker is irrelevant. A statement might be considered as defamatory if a statement is tending to lower a person’s reputation in the estimation of right thinking people.
  2. The statement must refer to or reflect upon the plaintiff’s reputation. This element is fulfilled if a reasonable person, having knowledge of the circumstances; understand the words refer to the plaintiff.
  3. The statement must have been published to a third person by the defendant. The offending words must have communicated to a third party.

Who can sue for defamation?

  1. Any living human being can sue for defamation.
  2. A company that holds certificate of incorporation holds by the Registrar of Companies and have a reputation to keep. However, a company cannot bring an action for libel or slander on behalf of its officers and directors in regard to disparage words published or uttered against them.

When I need to sue?

If one wants to sue for defamation, he must bring an action within six (6) years from the day of defamation.

What can I get if I sue for defamation?

In Malaysia, the Court compensate the plaintiff by granting him monetary damages.

This article is written by 
Loke Yuen Hong
Partners, Low & Partners
Fong Jia Wen
Associate, Low & Partners
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