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I. A basic knowledge of what constitutes defamation in Hong Kong
Is defamation by word of month normally considered to be "slander"? Why do we need to distinguish slander from libel?
Which court in Hong Kong hears defamation cases? Are the verdicts of such cases made by the court judge or the jury?
If I am the plaintiff or the defendant in a defamation lawsuit but I do not have the money to hire a lawyer, can I get some free legal assistance from the Government?
II. The meaning of "defamatory"
If I say or write something bad about a person, but I have no intention of defaming him, would I still be liable for defamation?
As different persons may have different interpretations, levels of acceptance, and sensitivity to any words that might be used, what standard is used to determine if words contain defamatory meanings? Would the context, circumstances, or the place where the words are published have any impact on whether or not the matter may be considered defamatory?
The words in question are included in an article, and only some of the words in the article may amount to defamation. In such a case, how are the meanings of the words determined?
Can a person's acts (not words) be capable of carrying defamatory meaning?
If a person gives nick names to his friends at random (e.g. he called an acquaintance "fatty pig"), has he incurred any liability for defamation?
We all have an interest in the private life of entertainers. We often discuss the various stories published in the media and this might have an adverse effect on some entertainers. Are the publishers liable for defamation?
III. Conveying defamatory matter to others
If the defamatory words were neither written by me nor originate from me, and I have simply repeated the publication to others, will I be liable for defamation?
If I only talk to my wife about another person, and some of the words I use are defamatory, will I be liable for publishing defamatory matter about the other person?
If we just talked about a colleague in the company office, will such a conversation be regarded as publication under defamation law?
If I sent an article defamatory of X in a sealed envelope addressed to my best friend (Y) but the letter was opened by Y's secretaries and assistants, will I be liable for the publication of the defamatory article to these other persons?
If we are employers, to what extent are we liable for the acts of our employees after they have published something defamatory of others?
In a public place, person C talked to another person B in a loud voice, accusing a 3rd party (A) of some wrong doing. The conversation was defamatory of A. What C said was recorded by a member of the public who then uploaded the conversation to a website on the Internet. In these circumstances, C will be liable for the publication of those defamatory words against A when his conversation is heard by the public. However, when the public hear what C said on the Internet, who will be liable for the publication of the defamatory words?
If defamatory words about a person were placed on an internet website by users/viewers of the website, will that website (or the person/company in charge of it) be liable for defamation?
IV. Identifying the person defamed
If I did not intend to refer to the plaintiff in my article, and it was a pure coincidence that the article appears to refer to him, will I still be liable for defamation?
Would I be liable for defamation if I published defamatory words or allegations about a limited company? How about publishing defamatory words or allegations against the government?
V. Loss and compensation
My rival is spreading rumours that goods supplied by my company are defective. These rumours are affecting my business substantially. Is there anything I can do to stop it?
Is the conduct and the intention of parties in a defamation lawsuit important when it comes to the assessment of compensation?
VII. Case illustration
A basic knowledge of what constitutes defamation in Hong Kong
The meaning of "defamatory"
Conveying defamatory matter to others
Identifying the person defamed
Loss and compensation
Updated on 17 September 2010
The CLIC Team
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