1
Defamation
LAWS OF MALAYSIA
REPRINT
Act 286
DEFAMATION ACT 1957
Incorporating all amendments up to 1 January 2006
PUBLISHED BY
THE COMMISSIONER OF LAW REVISION, MALAYSIA
UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE REVISION OF LAWS ACT 1968
IN COLLABORATION WITH
PERCETAKAN NASIONAL MALAYSIA BHD
2006
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DEFAMATION ACT 1957
First enacted ... ... ... ... ... ...
1957 (F.M. Ordinance
No. 20 of 1957)
Revised
... ... ... ... ... ... ...
1983 (Act 286 w.e.f.
18 August 1983)
PREVIOUS REPRINT
First Reprint
...
...
...
...
...
2001
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LAWS OF MALAYSIA
Act 286
DEFAMATION ACT 1957
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
Section
1.
Short title
2.
Interpretation
3.
Broadcast statements
4.
Slander of women
5.
Slander affecting official, professional, or business reputation
6.
Slander of title, etc.
7.
Unintentional defamation
8.
Justification
9.
Fair comment
10.
Apology in mitigation of damages
11.
Reports of judicial proceedings
12.
Qualified privilege of newspapers
13.
Application of Act to broadcasting
14.
Limitation of privilege at elections
15.
Agreements for indemnity
16.
Evidence of other damages recovered by plaintiff
17.
Consolidation of actions for libel
18.
Separate assessment of damages in certain cases in actions for libel
19.
Severance of defences
20.
Consolidation of actions for slander, etc.
21.
Transitional provisions and saving
22.
(Omitted)
SCHEDULE
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Laws of Malaysia
ACT 286
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Defamation
LAWS OF MALAYSIA
Act 286
DEFAMATION ACT 1957
An Act relating to the law of libel and slander and other malicious
falsehoods.
[Peninsular Malaysia--1 July 1957;
Sabah and Sarawak--6 May 1965,
L.N. 179/1965]
Short title
1.
This Act may be cited as the Defamation Act 1957.
Interpretation
2.
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires--
" b r o a d c a s t i n g by means of radio communication" means
publication for general reception by means of a radio communication
w i t h i n the meaning of the *Telecommunications Act 1950
[ A c t 20 ], and includes the transmission simultaneously by
telecommunication line in accordance with a licence granted in
that behalf under the Telecommunications Act of words broadcast
by means of radio communication;
" n e w s p a p e r " means any paper containing public news or
observations thereon or consisting wholly or mainly of advertisements
which is printed for sale and is published in Malaysia either
periodically or in parts or numbers at intervals not exceeding
thirty-six days;
"public meeting" means a meeting bona fide and lawfully held
for a lawful purpose and for the furtherance or discussion of any
matter of public concern whether the admission to the meeting is
general or restricted;
*NOTE--The Telecommunications Act 1950 [Act 20] has since been repealed by the Communications
and Multimedia Act 1998 [Act 588]see section 273 of Act 588.
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"words" includes pictures, visual images, gestures and other
methods of signifying meaning.
Broadcast statements
3.  For the purpose of the law of libel and slander the broadcasting
of words by means of radio communication shall be treated as
publication in a permanent form.
Slander of women
4.  Words spoken and published which impute unchastity or adultery
to any woman or girl shall not require special damage to render
them actionable.
Slander affecting official, professional, or business reputation
5.  In an action for slander in respect of words calculated to
disparage the plaintiff in any office, profession, calling, trade or
business held or carried on by him at the time of the publication,
it shall not be necessary to allege or prove special damage whether
or not the words are spoken of the plaintiff in the way of his office,
profession, calling, trade or business.
Slander of title, etc.
6. (1) In any action for slander of title, slander of goods or other
malicious falsehood, it shall not be necessary to allege or prove
special damage--
(a) if the words upon which the action is founded are calculated
to cause pecuniary damage to the plaintiff and are published
in writing or other permanent form; or
(b) if the said words are calculated to cause pecuniary damage
to the plaintiff in respect of any office, profession, calling,
trade or business held or carried on by him at the time
of the publication.
(2) Section 3 of this Act shall apply for the purposes of this
section as it applies for the purposes of the law of libel and
slander.
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Defamation
Unintentional defamation
7. (1) A person who has published words alleged to be defamatory
of another person may, if he claims that the words were published
by him innocently in relation to that other person, make an offer
of amends under this section; and in any such case--
(a) if the offer is accepted by the party aggrieved and is duly
performed, no proceedings for libel or slander shall be
taken or continued by that party against the person making
the offer in respect of the publication in question (but
without prejudice to any cause of action against any
other person jointly responsible for that publication);
(b) if the offer is not accepted by the party aggrieved, then,
except as otherwise provided by this section, it shall be
a defence, in any proceedings by him for libel or slander
against the person making the offer in respect of the
publication in question, to prove that the words complained
of were published by the defendant or were published by
the defendant innocently in relation to the plaintiff and
that the offer was made as soon as practicable after the
defendant received notice that they were or might be
defamatory of the plaintiff, and has not been withdrawn.
(2) An offer of amends under this section must be expressed to
be made for the purposes of this section, and must be accompanied
by an affidavit specifying the facts relied upon by the person
making it to show that the words in question were published by
him innocently in relation to the party aggrieved; and for the
purposes of a defence under paragraph 7(1)(b) no evidence, other
than evidence of facts specified in the affidavit, shall be admissible
on behalf of that person to prove that the words were so published.
(3) An offer of amends under this section shall be understood
to mean an offer--
(a) in any case, to publish or join in the publication of a
suitable correction of the words complained of, and a
sufficient apology to the party aggrieved in respect of
those words;
(b) where copies of a document or record containing the said
words have been distributed by or with the knowledge of
the person making the offer, to take such steps as are
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reasonably practicable on his part for notifying persons
to whom copies have been so distributed that the words
are alleged to be defamatory of the party aggrieved.
(4) Where an offer of amends under this section is accepted by
the party aggrieved--
(a) any question as to the steps to be taken in fulfilment of
the offer as so accepted shall in default of agreement
between the parties be referred to and determined by the
High Court, whose decision thereon shall be final;
(b) the power of the Court to make orders as to costs in
proceedings by the party aggrieved against the person
making the offer in respect of the publication in question,
or in proceedings in respect of the offer under paragraph
7(4)(a), shall include power to order the payment by the
person making the offer to the party aggrieved of costs
on an indemnity basis and any expenses reasonably incurred
or to be incurred by that party in consequence of the
publication in question,
and if no such proceedings as aforesaid are taken, the High Court
may, upon application made by the party aggrieved, make any
such order for the payment of such costs and expenses as aforesaid
as could be made in such proceedings.
(5) For the purposes of this section words shall be treated as
published by one person (in this subsection referred to as the
publisher) innocently in relation to another person if and only if
the following conditions are satisfied, that is to say--
(a) that the publisher did not intend to publish them of and
c o n c e r n i n g that other person, and did not know of
circumstances by virtue of which they might be understood
to refer to him; or
(b) that the words were not defamatory on the face of them,
and the publisher did not know of circumstances by virtue
of which they might be understood to be defamatory of
that other person,
and in either case that the publisher exercised all reasonable care
in relation to the publication; and any reference in this subsection
to the publisher shall be construed as including a reference to any
servant or agent of his who was concerned with the contents of
the publication.
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Defamation
(6) Paragraph 7(1)(b) shall not apply in relation to the publication
by any person of words of which he is not the author unless he
proves that the words were written by the author without malice.
Justification
8.  In an action for libel or slander in respect of words containing
two or more distinct charges against the plaintiff, a defence of
justification shall not fail by reason only that the truth of every
charge is not proved if the words not proved to be true do not
materially injure the plaintiff's reputation having regard to the
truth of the remaining charges.
Fair comment
9.  In an action for libel or slander in respect of words consisting
partly of allegations of fact and partly of expression of opinion,
a defence of fair comment shall not fail by reason only that the
truth of every allegation of fact is not proved if the expression of
opinion is fair comment having regard to such of the facts alleged
or referred to in the words complained of as are proved.
Apology in mitigation of damages
10. (1) In any action for defamation the defendant may (after
notice in writing of his intention to do so duly given to the plaintiff
at the time of filing his written statement of his case) give in
evidence, in mitigation of damages, that he made or offered an
apology to the plaintiff for such defamation before the commencement
of such action or as soon afterwards as he had an opportunity of
doing so in case the action shall have been commenced before
there was an opportunity of making or offering such apology.
(2) In an action for libel contained in any newspaper any defendant
who has paid money into court under the provisions of any written
law relating to civil procedure may state in mitigation of damages,
in his written statement of his case, that such libel was inserted
in such newspaper without actual malice and without gross negligence
and that, before the commencement of the action or at the earliest
opportunity afterwards, he inserted or offered to insert in such
newspaper a full apology for the said libel, or, if the newspaper
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in which the said libel appeared should be ordinarily published at
intervals exceeding one week, had offered to publish the said
apology in any newspaper to be selected by the plaintiff in such
action.
Reports of judicial proceedings
1 1 . ( 1 ) A fair and accurate and contemporaneous report of
proceedings publicly heard before any court lawfully exercising
judicial authority within Malaysia and of the judgment, sentence
or finding of any such court shall be absolutely privileged, and any
fair and bona fide comment thereon shall be protected, although
such judgment, sentence or finding be subsequently reversed, quashed
or varied, unless at the time of the publication of such report or
comment the defendant who claims the protection afforded by this
section knew or ought to have known of such reversal, quashing
or variation.
(2) Nothing in this section shall authorize the publication of
any blasphemous, seditious or indecent matter or any matter the
publication of which is prohibited by law.
Qualified privilege of newspapers
12. (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the publication
in a newspaper of any such report or other matter as is mentioned
in Part I of the Schedule to this Act shall be privileged unless the
publication is proved to be made with malice.
(2) In an action for libel in respect of the publication of any
such report or matter as is mentioned in Part II of the Schedule
to this Act, the provisions of this section shall not be a defence
if it is proved that the defendant has been requested by the plaintiff
to publish in the newspaper in which the original publication was
made a reasonable letter or statement by way of explanation or
contradiction, and has refused or neglected to do so, or has done
so in a manner not adequate or not reasonable having regard to
all the circumstances.
(3) Nothing in this section shall be construed as protecting the
publication of any blasphemous, seditious or indecent matter or of
any matter the publication of which is prohibited by law, or of any
matter which is not of public concern and the publication of which
is not for the public benefit.
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Defamation
(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting or
abridging any privilege subsisting (otherwise than by virtue of the
Libel Enactment of the Federated Malay States [F.M.S. Cap. 70]
and the Libel Ordinance of the Straits Settlements [S.S. Cap. 56]
repealed by this Act) immediately before the commencement of
this Act.
Application of Act to broadcasting
13. (1) The provisions of this Act shall apply in relation to reports
or matters broadcast by means of radio communication as part of
any programme or service provided by means of a broadcasting
station within Malaysia, and in relation to any broadcasting by
means of radio communication of any such report or matter, as
they apply in relation to reports and matters published in a newspaper
and to publication in a newspaper.
(2) Subsection 10(2) shall have effect in relation to such
broadcasting as if for the words "to insert in such newspaper"
there were substituted the words "to publish in the same manner"
and subsection 12(2) shall have effect in relation to any such
broadcasting, as if for the words "in the newspaper in which" there
were substituted the words "in the manner in which".
(3) In this section "broadcasting station" means any radio
communication station in respect of which a licence granted under
the *Telecommunications Act 1950, being a licence which (by
whatever form of words) authorizes the use of the station for the
purpose of providing broadcasting services for general reception.
Limitation of privilege at elections
14.  A defamatory statement published by or on behalf of a candidate
in any election to a local authority or to the Dewan Rakyat or any
Legislative Assembly or other elected or partially elected body
shall not be deemed to be published on a privileged occasion on
the ground that it is material to a question in issue in the election,
whether or not the person by whom it is published is qualified to
vote at the election.
*NOTE--The Telecommunications Act 1950 [Act 20] has since been repealed by the Communications
and Multimedia Act 1998 [Act 588]see section 273 of Act 588.
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Agreements for indemnity
15.  An agreement for indemnifying any person against civil liability
for libel in respect of the publication of any matter shall not be
unlawful unless at the time of the publication that person knows
that the matter is defamatory, and does not reasonably believe
there is a good defence to any action brought upon it.
Evidence of other damages recovered by plaintiff
16.  In any action for libel or slander the defendant may give
evidence in mitigation of damages that the plaintiff has recovered
damages or has brought actions for damages, for libel or slander
in respect of the publication of words to the same effect as the
words on which the action is founded, or has received or agreed
to receive compensation in respect of any such publication.
Consolidation of actions for libel
17. (1) Upon an application by two or more defendants in actions
in respect to the same or substantially the same libel brought by
one and the same person the court or a Judge may make an order
for the consolidation of such actions so that they shall be tried
together.
(2) After any such order has been made and before the trial of
the said actions the defendants in any new actions instituted in
respect of the same or substantially the same libel shall also be
entitled to be joined in a common action upon a joint application
by such new defendants and the defendants in the action already
consolidated.
(3) The court or a Judge may, in the case of the same or
substantially the same libel published simultaneously in a number
of newspapers or copied shortly after publication, give notice to
the plaintiff in any action or actions arising out of such libels that
a period stated in such notice will be allowed for the discovery
of any further publications of such libel in order that the whole
of the actions arising out of such libel may be tried together, and
after such period has expired no further action shall be instituted
in respect of the publication of such libel except for the recovery
of special damages.
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Defamation
(4) In a consolidated action under this section the whole amount
of the damages (if any) shall be assessed in one sum but a separate
judgment shall be given in respect of each defendant in the same
way as if the actions consolidated had been tried separately.
(5) The amount of damages so assessed as aforesaid shall be
apportioned amongst those of the defendants against whom judgment
shall have been given, and if costs are given to the plaintiff the
court may make such order as it shall deem just apportioning the
costs amongst such last-mentioned defendants.
Separate assessment of damages in certain cases in actions for
libel
18.  Whenever in an action of libel the plaintiff sues more than
one defendant, whether jointly, severally, or in the alternative, and
evidence is given of malice in one defendant or of any other matter
of aggravation which would not be admissible in evidence against
any other defendant if he were sued alone, such other defendant
may apply to the court to have the damages against himself and
his co-defendants separately assessed, and if such application be
made the court shall assess the damages separately against each
defendant and no defendant shall be liable nor shall execution
issue against him for any further or other damages than shall be
so assessed against him.
Severance of defences
19.  Whenever in any action of libel the plaintiff sues more than
one defendant, whether jointly, severally, or in the alternative,
each defendant may file a separate statement of his case and
appear at the trial by separate counsel or if he thinks fit, apologize
or pay money into court or make other amends, whatever may be
the defences set up by his co-defendants, and the plaintiff may
a c c e p t such apology, money, or other amends and settle or
compromise the suit and discontinue the action as between himself
and one or more defendants without reference to the other defendants:
Provided always that the rights and interests of the other defendant
or defendants shall not in any way be prejudiced thereby.
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Consolidation of actions for slander, etc.
20.  Sections 17, 18 and 19 of this Act shall apply to actions for
slander and to slander of title, slander of goods and other malicious
falsehood as they apply to actions for libel and references in any
such sections to the same or substantially the same libel shall be
construed accordingly.
Transitional provisions and saving
21. (1) (Omitted).
(2) Nothing in this Act shall affect the provisions of the Penal
Code [Act 574] or any other written law relating to criminal offences
or apply to any prosecution for any criminal offence.
22. (Omitted).
SCHEDULE
[Subsection 12(1)]
PART I
1.
A fair and accurate report of proceedings--
(a) of the legislature of any part of the Commonwealth other than in
Malaysia;
(b) of an international organization of which Malaysia or the Government
thereof is a member;
(c) of an international conference to which the Government sends a
representative;
(d) before any court exercising jurisdiction throughout any part of the
Commonwealth (as defined in the Constitution) outside Malaysia or
a court martial held outside Malaysia under any written law in force
in Malaysia or under any Act of the United Kingdom Parliament; and
(e) of a body or person appointed to hold a public enquiry by the Government
of Malaysia or any State thereof or by the legislature of any part of
the Commonwealth outside Malaysia.
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Defamation
2.  A fair and accurate copy of or extract from any register kept in pursuance
of any written law in force in Malaysia which is open to inspection by the public
or which members of the public are entitled to have searched or of any other
document which is required by any such law to be open to inspection by the
public or to which members of the public are entitled on payment of a fee to
a copy.
3.  A notice, advertisement or report issued or published by or on the authority
of any court within Malaysia or any Judge or officer of such court or by any
public officer or receiver or trustee acting in accordance with the requirements
of any written law.
PART II
[Subsection 12(2)]
STATEMENTS PRIVILEGED SUBJECT TO EXPLANATION OR CONTRADICTION
1.  A fair and accurate report of the findings or decision of any association
formed in Malaysia for the purpose of--
(i) promoting or encouraging the exercise of or any interest in any art,
science, religion or learning; or
(ii) promoting or safeguarding the interests of any trade, business, industry
or profession or of persons carrying on the same or engaged therein
or the interests of any game, sport or pastime to the playing or
exercise of which members of the public are invited or admitted:
Provided that such finding or decision relates to a person who is a member
of such association or is subject by virtue of any contract to the control of such
association and that such association is empowered by its constitution to exercise
control over or to adjudicate upon the matters to which such finding or decision
relates.
2.  A fair and accurate report of the proceedings of any public meeting held
in Malaysia.
3.  A fair and accurate report of the proceedings at any meeting or sitting in
any part of Malaysia of--
(a) any local authority or committee thereof;
(b) any Commission, tribunal, committee or person appointed for the
purpose of any enquiry by or under any written law or by the Yang
di-Pertuan Agong, or by the Ruler, or Yang di-Pertua Negeri of any
State, or by any public officer of any Government in Malaysia; or
(c) any other tribunal, board, Commission, committee or body whether
incorporated or not constituted and exercising functions by or under
any written law in force in any part of Malaysia or the Republic of
Singapore or under any other lawful warrant or authority for public
purposes:
Provided that such meeting or sitting is one to which admission is not denied
to representatives of newspapers or other members of the public.
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4.  A fair and accurate report of the proceedings at a general meeting wherever
held of any joint-stock company or corporation wherever registered whose
business is in any way directly concerned with Malaysia or any part thereof or
of any company constituted, registered or incorporated under the provisions of
any written law in force in Malaysia not being a private company within the
meaning of the Companies Act 1965 [Act 125].
5.  A copy or a fair and accurate report or summary of any notice or other
matter issued for the information of the public by or on behalf of any Government
in Malaysia or by any public officer or local authority.
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Defamation
LAWS OF MALAYSIA
Act 286
DEFAMATION ACT 1957
LIST OF AMENDMENTS
Amending law
Short title
In force from
*Ord. 18/1959
State of Singapore Ordinance 1959
03-06-1959
L.N. 179/1965
Modification of Laws (Defamation)
06-05-1965
(Modification and Extension to
Borneo States and Singapore)
Order 1965
*NOTE-- The State of Singapore Ordinance 1959 [Ord. No. 18 of 1959] has since been repealed
by the Federal Statute Law Revision (Former Federation of Malaya Ordinance) Act 1965
[Act 68 of 1965]See Schedule of Act 68 of 1965.
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ACT 286
LAWS OF MALAYSIA
Act 286
DEFAMATION ACT 1957
LIST OF SECTIONS AMENDED
Section
Amending authority
In force from
NIL
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PERCETAKAN NASIONAL MALAYSIA BERHAD,
KUALA LUMPUR
BAGI PIHAK DAN DENGAN PERINTAH KERAJAAN MALAYSIA