defamation against business, defamation against companies

In today's world, information spreads fast and far, thanks to the power of the internet and social media. Unfortunately, this can also mean that false statements about you or your business can spread just as quickly, damaging your reputation and causing financial harm. 

This is where the tort of malicious falsehood comes into play. By understanding what malicious falsehood is and how it works, you can protect yourself and your business from the negative effects of false statements. 

In this article, we'll provide a comprehensive overview of malicious falsehood, including the elements required to establish a claim, how it differs from defamation, and examples to illustrate the concept. 

Whether you're an owner of a small enterprise or a big multi-million conglomerate, this simple guide will help you navigate the complex world of malicious falsehood.


1. Malicious falsehood is a legal term used to describe a false statement made by an individual or entity with the intention of causing harm. 

2. It is a tort law that protects companies from false statements that may harm their reputation, leading to financial losses. 


3. To establish a claim under malicious falsehood, the plaintiff must prove three elements, namely:

a) That the defendant published false words about the plaintiff.

b) That the defendant published these false words with malice, which means that they acted recklessly or unreasonably, with the intention of causing harm.

c) That the plaintiff suffered special damage as a result of the publication, which refers to the financial losses incurred due to the false statement.

4. In essence, the key element of malicious falsehood is that the false statement must be made with malice or ill intent, rather than a mistake or ignorance. 

5. The burden of proof lies with the plaintiff to prove these elements on a balance of probabilities.


6. It is important to note that malicious falsehood is different from defamation. 

7. In a defamation case, the plaintiff  must prove that the defendant  made a false and defamatory statement that was published to a third party, and that the statement caused harm to the plaintiff's reputation. 

8. The plaintiff bears the initial burden of proof to establish a prima facie case, which means that they must present evidence to prove the elements of their claim. 

9. On the other hand, in a malicious falsehood case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant made a false statement about the plaintiff, that the statement was made maliciously, and that the plaintiff suffered financial loss as a direct result of the statement. 

10. Unlike in defamation cases, the plaintiff in a malicious falsehood case bears the burden of proving malice on the part of the defendant. 

11. This means that the plaintiff must show that the defendant acted with an improper motive, such as spite or ill will, when making the false statement. The plaintiff must also prove that they suffered financial loss as a result of the false statement.



12. To illustrate the concept of malicious falsehood, let us consider the case of Company A, which is a reputable software company in Malaysia. Company B, a competitor of Company A, publishes a false statement claiming that Company A's software is not secure, and it is prone to hacking. 

13. The statement is published with the intention of harming the reputation of Company A and gaining an unfair advantage. As a result of the false statement, Company A loses a significant number of customers and incurs financial losses.

14. In this case, Company A can file a claim of malicious falsehood against Company B, provided that it can prove that the statement made was false, published maliciously, and caused special damage to the company.

15. In the case of Tan Chong & Son Motor Co Sdn Bhd v. Borneo Motors (M) Sdn Bhd & Anor. The plaintiff was a car dealership that brought a claim against a competitor for making false statements about the quality of the plaintiff's cars.
16. The court found that the statements were false and made with malice, as the competitor had no reasonable basis for making the claims. The court awarded damages to the plaintiff for the losses it suffered as a result of the false statements.

17. Another example of malicious falsehood can be seen in the case of Anne Lim Keng See v. The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd & Anor And Other Appeals. In this case, the plaintiff was a businesswoman who sued a newspaper for publishing false statements about her business dealings. 

18. The court found that the statements were false and made with malice, as the newspaper had not verified the information before publishing it. The plaintiff was awarded damages for the losses she suffered as a result of the false statements.

19. In conclusion, malicious falsehood is a tort law that protects individuals and companies from false statements made with the intention of causing harm. It is essential to distinguish it from defamation, as malicious falsehood requires that the statement made must be factually incorrect and made with malice. 

20. If a person or company is found guilty of malicious falsehood, they may be required to pay damages to the plaintiff as compensation for any losses incurred.


Malicious falsehood is a type of tort law that protects against the publication of false statements with the intention of causing harm to a company. To establish a claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant published false words about the plaintiff, that the words were published maliciously, and that special damage followed as a direct result of the publication. Malice can be established if the defendant did not believe in the truth of the statement or if it was made with reckless disregard for the truth. Malicious falsehood differs from defamation in that it focuses on economic loss rather than harm to a person's reputation, and the burden of proof required is higher.
Disclaimer: This article is published for the purpose of awareness and general knowledge. Any part contained in this article should not be considered as a guide to initiate legal action independently without first consulting an experienced lawyer.

For any further information regarding this article or to schedule a legal consultation session, you may contact your preferred lawyer, or you may reach us via WhatsApp by clicking the yellow image above. Note that the information in this article is accurate at the time of publication and may be subject to change without notice. We will not be liable for any action or failure to act taken based on the information contained in this article.

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