I Am Giving A Business A Bad Review. Can They Sue Me?

You are being sue? Don’t panic. Consult with Lawyer Malaysia:


Can a business sue you for giving them a bad review (which affects their reputation)? Yes, they can actually sue you for defamation. No one likes it when their reputation is soiled, as it will ultimately affect their business. However, it is not as easy as it sounds. In this article, we will briefly look at this issue.

First thing’s first: What is defamation, and what is not?

There is no one standard definition of what constitutes “defamation” in the Act. However, two things are very clear:

  1. The law dictates that defamation can be further divided into two sub category, namely:
    1. Libel (permanent defamation) – written statements such as statements in written media, newspapers, social media, emails and videos; or
    2. Slander (temporary defamation) – spoken statements or gestures.
  2. As to what constitutes libel/ slander, the Malaysian courts have over the years tackled this issue and have generally agreed that some statements will constitute libel/ slander over the others. Those statements are:
    1. Statements that lowers a person’s reputation in the minds of right-thinking (i.e. reasonable) members of society;
    2. Statements that causes a person to be exposed to contempt, hatred or ridicule; or
    3. Statements that belittles a person’s profession, calling, trade or business.

The law on defamation

What does the business need to prove to sue you for libel?1. There is a written (defamatory) statement;
2. It is directed at that particular business; and
3. The statement was published other than to that particular business that was defamed.
What does the business need to prove to sue you for slander?1. There is a statement made by utterances (spoken word), sounds or other non-permanent forms;
2. It is directed at that particular business; and
3. The statement was published other than to that particular business that was defamed.
How does the business know if the statement (libel or slander) is directed at a particular person1?The business suing you for defamation must prove whether:
1. The statement is capable to be regarded to be referred to the business; and
2. Whether a reasonable person will arrive at the same conclusion i.e. they will also be able to infer that you made that statement against that particular business.

Can you justify your statement?

Yes, provided that you can raise and prove one of the defences noted below (however, do keep in mind that there are more than those mentioned below. We did not mention them as they are not relevant to the current discussion.):

DefencesWhat do you need to prove
Justification2You need to prove the truth of the facts within the statements you made against the particular business3. However, you are not required to prove the truth of all the statements you made (i.e. as long as there is truth in some of the statements you made, you may raise the defence of justification)4.
Fair comment5You will need to prove that6:
1. The statement is a mere comment and not a statement of fact;
2. The comments must be based on proven facts;
3. The comments are fair comments;
4. The comments must be on a matter of public interest.
*you will not be able to raise this defence if you made the statement with malice*
Unintentional defamation7This only applies if you ask a publisher to publish the statements you made i.e. this only concerns the publisher of the statement you made.

Under this defence, the publisher has two ways of going about proving that they have unintentionally defamed that particular business:
1. If the words are defamatory of that particular business in their natural and ordinary meaning which includes a false innuendo, the publisher must prove that:
a. The publisher did not intend to publish the statements concerning that particular business that was defamed;
b. The publisher did not know of the circumstances in which the statements might be understood to be referring to that particular business that was defamed; and
c. The publisher had taken reasonable care before publishing the statements.
2. If the words are defamatory due to certain external factors by way of true innuendo, the publisher must prove that:
a. The publisher did not know of the circumstances in which the statements might be understood to be referring to that particular business that was defamed; and
b. The publisher had taken reasonable care before publishing the statements.

And there you have it, hopefully, it helps!!


Need to learn more about defamation: Talk with our lawyer:


1. Pardeep Kumar a/l Om Parkash SHarma v Abdullah Sani Bin Hashim [2009] 2 MLJ 685.

2. Section 9, Defamation Act 1957.

3. Institute of Commercial Management United Kingdom v New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd (1993) 1 MLJ 408.

4. Voon Lee Shan v Sarawak Press (2004) 5 MLJ 430.

5. Section 9, Defamation Act.

6. Gwee Tong Hiang v Boo Cheng Hau [2016] 2 MLJ 388.

7. Section 7, Defamation Act 1957.