Reynolds Privilege, Common Law Defamation and Malaysia

26 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2011

See all articles by Andrew T. Kenyon

Andrew T. Kenyon

University of Melbourne Law School

Ang Hean Leng

Monash University

Date Written: April 4, 2011


The defence of qualified privilege has developed in the defamation law of many countries that share English legal heritage. Malaysian cases have applied, in particular, English or Australian developments in qualified privilege. However, Malaysian judgments have not engaged in a close analysis of how the foreign changes arise under Malaysian law. This article explains how the Australian developments appear difficult to apply within the Malaysian context, while the English developments offer a clear avenue for Malaysian defamation law’s modernisation. The key reason for this is the way in which the English Reynolds privilege can be seen to have its origins, at least in part, within the common law as well as within European human rights standards. The common law aspects of Reynolds, apparent from a wide range of English judicial statements, offer a doctrinal basis for the existing and future application of the Reynolds defence in Malaysian defamation law.

Suggested Citation

Kenyon, Andrew T. and Hean Leng, Ang, Reynolds Privilege, Common Law Defamation and Malaysia (April 4, 2011). Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, pp. 256-281, December 2010, Available at SSRN:

Andrew T. Kenyon (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
61 3 8344 9972 (Phone)
61 3 9348 0973 (Fax)


Ang Hean Leng

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800

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