Corporate Defamation: Reputation, Rights and Remedies

Kok Yew Gary CHAN, Singapore Management University


This paper examines fundamental issues concerning a corporation's right to sue for defamatory attacks on its reputation, the scope of the right and the remedies available. It first outlines the opposed positions in England and Australia, respectively. It also argues that a corporation, save for a government corporation that exercises governmental functions based on markedly different rationales, should have the right to sue in defamation premised on the concept of corporate reputation as property and for the purpose of vindicating its reputation. On the question of remedies, a corporation should be entitled to recover special damages as reparation for damage to reputation provided they are proved. This paper considers, instead of presumed damages, alternative remedies for vindicating corporate reputation. Finally, it examines the business and non-business reputations of both trading and non-trading corporations in relation to claims for damages.