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MONETARY COMPENSATION AWARDED BY THE MALAYSIAN COURT IN BUSINESS DEFAMATION CLAIMS

By:


Bryan Lui (Co-Managing Partner) [bryanlui@luibhullar.com]

Harneshpal Karamjit Singh (Co-Managing Partner) [harnesh@luibhullar.com]

Wong Xin Yi (Intern)



In Malaysia, businesses that suffer from defamation have the right to seek monetary compensation from the court. Defamation cases involving businesses as plaintiffs often revolve around protecting their reputation and standing in the industry. These cases can lead to substantial awards, with quantum determined by various factors. We'll delve into some notable cases to understand the reasons behind the awarded quantum.


1. Big Man Management Sdn Bhd v Tenaga Nasional Bhd [2020] 11 MLJ 472

In this case, the court awarded RM25,000 each for general and aggravated damages to the plaintiff, Big Man Management Sdn Bhd, without requiring proof of actual damage. The quantum was based on several factors, including the extent of defamation, the plaintiff's reputation, and the impact on their dignity. The seriousness of the statement led to this fair and reasonable award.


2. TJANTING HANDICRAFT SDN BHD & ANOR V UTUSAN MELAYU (M) BHD & ORS [2001] 2 MLJ 574

The court awarded substantial damages to the plaintiffs, considering the harmful impact of defamation on their business reputation. General damages were awarded to console the plaintiffs for distress, repair harm to their reputation, and serve as a vindication of their reputation. The court also considered the emotional distress and illness caused by the publication in assessing damages.


3. Stemlife Bhd v Mead Johnson Nutrition (M) Sdn Bhd [2014] MLJU 1768

The court awarded RM250,000 in general and aggravated damages to Stemlife Bhd, a public-listed stem-cell banking company. Several factors influenced this quantum, including the seriousness of the libel, the extent of publication (given its worldwide reach), and Mead Johnson's indifferent and malicious conduct.


4. Ortus Expert White Sdn Bhd v Rekha a/p Munisamy [2019] MLJU 2151

The court awarded RM175,000 as general and exemplary damages to the plaintiffs in this case. Factors considered included the seriousness of the defamation, the conduct of the plaintiff, the defendant's conduct, and the harm caused to the plaintiff's business and reputation.


5. GS Realty Sdn Bhd v Lee Kong Seng [2018] MLJU 1902

Damages of RM50,000 were awarded in a defamation case involving Facebook posts. The court considered the nature of the libel and the extent of publication when determining the quantum.


6. Warisan Pinang Sdn Bhd& Ors v Carolyn Kor Tsai Chen [2023] MLJU 1753

In this case, the court highlighted factors influencing damages awards, such as the gravity of the allegation, mode and extent of publication, and the defendant's conduct. The court awarded RM100,000 each for general and aggravated damages.


7. AI Maarif Travel & Tours Sdn Bhd v Nur Farhana bt Yeop Hussin & Anor [2022] MLJU 43

Despite the plaintiff's lack of a license, the court awarded RM144,000 (20% reduced from the original sum) in damages. This reduction aimed to emphasize the importance of compliance with the law.


In summary, defamation cases involving businesses as plaintiffs consider various factors when determining quantum. These factors include the seriousness of the libel, the extent of publication, the conduct of both parties and the harm inflicted on the plaintiff's reputation and business. The courts aim to strike a balance between compensating the plaintiff and discouraging defamation while ensuring fairness and proportionality in awards. The goal of business defamation claims is to protect the reputation and integrity of businesses and ensure that they are not unfairly harmed by false or misleading information.

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