This article offers the small business owner very useful information regarding the defamation laws in Thailand and how they can impact a business.
Thailand has a complex legal system that businesses need to be aware of when conducting operations in the country. One key area of law that foreign companies often have questions about is defamation.
Every country in the world has their own set of unique laws governing defamation of character, and Thailand is no exception to this rule. The term ‘defamation’ is defined as an act of making false statements and circulating them as fact, which can cause an individual or business entity to lose their good name. In the event the defamer is found to be liable, they must pay the defamed an agreed amount of money to compensate for spreading untruths.
A Criminal Case
In Thailand, defamation is a criminal offence under Section 326 of the criminal code and the offence carries a maximum sentence of 2 years in jail and/or a fine of up to 200,000 baht. In the event you are served with a defamation lawsuit, your legal support for BOI approval or the lawyers who helped you with your company registration may be able to provide you with experts who can advise you on the best way forward.
Of course, it is important to first establish that you did actually make the alleged statement(s), which may have been on social media or even printed matter and if that is the case, you then need to prepare evidence to support the statements and if you are able to do this, you are acquitted of the charge and the defamed must pay your legal costs.
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This is where most defamation cases are to be found. Let’s say that a guest made derogatory comments about your resort on the Internet and you feel that your business has suffered regarding this, you can file a defamation lawsuit. When you file such a lawsuit, the defamer must prove that their statements are in fact, the truth and if they cannot, the defamed wins the case and a judge would decide on a suitable compensation amount. It is vital to try and resolve any issues as soon as possible, thus avoiding any legal proceedings.
Let’s say that you run a backpack hostel in Thailand and one guest left the room in a terrible state and you mention this on social media; this could lead to you being the recipient of a defamation charge. If you have proof that the guest did in fact, leave the room in a terrible state, such as images or a police report, then you can show evidence that your statement was the truth.
Whether you are filing or on the receiving end of a defamation case, it is imperative that you seek out legal counsel as soon as possible. If you own a business in Thailand, you should forge a working alliance with an English-speaking business lawyer who is based in Bangkok and they can assist you with many aspects of law, not just defamation cases. The lawyer can help you choose the right business registration type, while also helping with tax returns and drawing up employment contracts.
The defamation laws in Thailand means you have to be very careful when making statements or comments and without the advice of a Thai lawyer, you could very easily get yourself into hot water.