Remarkably over 50 years ago Diplock LJ in Slim v Daily Telegraph Ltd  2 QB 157 referred to “the artificial and archaic character of the tort of libel”. And then, some 30 years Parker LJ in Brent Walker Group plc v Time Out Ltd  2 QB 33 commented on the absurdity of the “tangled web of the law of defamation”. The United Kingdom witnessed its long-awaited reform in the form of the Defamation Act 2013, and one, if not the main, reason for enacting the 2013 Act was the concern that the English defamation law was diminishing free speech and how it impairs the communication of public information about matters of legitimate public interest and concern.
The prevailing sentiment in Malaysia is that the reform of our defamation law is long overdue and warrants a timely review. Our Defamation Act 1957 is not a comprehensive piece of legislation, and up till now Malaysia’s law on defamation has developed along the lines of the English common law. In introducing changes to our defamation law, it is however, pertinent that the proposed changes cater to our local needs, values and aspirations.
As the Defamation Law Reform Subcommittee — which is set up under Bar Council Law Reform and Special Areas Committee — embarks on its task to propose reforms, it seeks to align our defamation law to modern times, where there’s public demand for free speech, accountability, transparency, and good governance at one end, and the need to protect one’s reputation against defamatory attacks on the other end of the spectrum. This is especially true, in today’s digital age where defamatory speech, comments or publication can spread wide and far at lightning speed.
In this webinar, we will explore the defence of fair comment, a bedrock of free speech. We will include in our discourse the following areas:
Importance of the defence of fair comment;
An overview of the defence as it is applied in the Malaysian setting; and
What reforms, if any, we can introduce to the defence of fair comment.
Upon viewing all the videos and completing the quiz in this course, you will be given 1 CPD point.