Defamation FAQs

What is defamation?

In simple language, defamation occurs when there is a statement made that damages or injures the reputation of another person.  Defamation can consist of either “slander” or “libel”:

  • Slander occurs when the defamatory statement is made through a temporary form (eg: spoken words, or gestures)
  • Libel occurs when the defamatory statement is made through a permanent form (eg: social media post, articles, newspaper reports, e-mails, video   recordings)
What is a defamatory statement?

Generally speaking, a statement is defamatory if it would lower the reputation of another person in the eyes of the public.

Certain statements may be clearly defamatory in their natural and ordinary meaning (eg: falsely informing others that a certain individual is a convicted criminal).  

Under what circumstances can I sue for defamation?

There are 3 criterias to be fulfilled before one can pursue for a defamation claim:-

  • There must be a defamatory element that would lower your reputation in the eyes of the public
  • The statement must refer to your identity.
  • The statement must be published to a third party.
Someone posted a defamatory statement about me on social media, can I proceed to sue him for defamation?

Yes. As long as you fulfilled the criteria abovementioned, you could pursue for a defamation claim.

Can I seek for a public apology from the other party if I find that the statement is defamatory?

You can demand for a public apology. However, a public apology is not the remedy available under the law. You may propose this as one of the requirements for out-of-court settlement.

What kind of defence do I have under the law if I am being sued by someone for defamation?

These are the typical defences to defamation:

  • Justification– This means the statements made were actually true. For example, if A was really a convicted criminal, a statement that A was convicted of a criminal offence, is not defamatory.
  • Fair Comment– This is where the statement made is an honest expression of an opinion about a matter of public interest.
  • Absolute Privilege– Where a situation or person is covered by absolute privilege, they cannot be sued for statements made even if they are defamatory. An example would be “a fair and accurate and contemporaneous report of proceedings” in court, as well as the “judgment, sentence or finding of such court”.
  • Qualified Privilege– This covers situations where the maker of the statement has a legal or moral duty to make the statement, or where the statement is made to further a legitimate common interest.
What kind of compensation would I get from a defamation claim?

If you have won the defamation suit, you are entitled to monetary compensation. The amount of the compensation granted shall depend on the discretion of the court based on several factors, such as the reputation of the claimant, the seriousness of the defamation, the loss suffered by the claimant as a result of the defamation and the list goes on. Malaysia court has awarded RM 7 million in favour of Tan Sri Vincent Tan for a defamatory articles published in a magazine. 

What should i do to begin a defamation suit?

You should contact a lawyer. Your lawyer will advise you based on the evidence that you provide to them. 

Further Inquiries?
You may contact our panel lawyers/ the author of this article.

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