Defamation in Thailand – Natural Fruits Corporation vs. Andy Hall
International news is filled with the criminal defamation case brought by Natural Fruit Corporation, one of Thailand’s largest pineapple processors, against Andy Hall, a British labor rights activists. The charges can carry up to an eight-year prison sentence and a USD$10 million fine.
Mr. Hall made allegations that Natural Fruit Corporation used violence, force overtime, child labor, and the confiscation of the passports to keep their Burmese migrant workforce subservient and working. Mr. Hall later published his findings in a series of reports.
Natural Fruit Corporation denies Mr. Hall’s allegations and has sued Mr. Hall in both civil and criminal court for defamation. Natural Fruit Corporation states that it has never had any legal problems in regards to its workforce. In addition, the company has received “Happy Workplace” awards for good labor practice. Natural Fruit Corporation says that Mr. Hall’s report tarnishes the reputation of the company and the company has since been the target of global campaign damaging the company’s finances.
What do the laws in Thailand say about Defamation?
There are two types of defamation in Thailand. Under Section 423 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code, defamation is defined as a person who makes false statements and circulates it as fact. The false statements must injure the reputation, credit, earnings, or prosperity of another person. If the defamer is found liable, the defamer shall compensate the defamed for any damages arising from the false statements. Even if the defamer does not know that his statements are false, as long as he knows that it should be false, the defamer is liable for defamation. The court is not bound by the criminal code’s limits on punishment in a civil case.
Under Section 326 of the Thai Criminal Code, defamation is defined as whoever imputes anything about another person to a third person in a manner likely to impair the person’s reputation or place the person in contempt or hatred by others. When defamation is committed by publication or other media made visible by any means, the offender is liable for imprisonment for up to two years and a fine of up to 200,000 baht. If the person who is accused of defamation is able to prove that the statement is true, the person shall not be punished. But the truth is not a defense for private matters that is not a benefit to the public (Section 330).
Application to the Natural Fruit Corporation vs. Andy Hall Case
In the above matter, Natural Fruit Corporation will have to prove that Mr. Hall’s statements and reports harmed its reputation. It has to prove that Mr. Hall’s statements were false and the statements were willfully or negligently made with intent to cause injury. Mr. Hall claims that his statements are true and that his intent was not to harm Natural Fruits Corporation but in the public interest to help laborers. Natural Fruit Corporation states that Mr. Hall’s statements are false and that they have been publically vilified leading to the loss of business. The case is now being tried in a Thai court.
If you believe that you have been defamed and you have personally suffered injury or if you believe that you have been falsely charged with defamation, please contact our office for assistance.
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Siam Legal is an international law firm with experienced lawyers, attorneys, and solicitors both in Thailand law and international law. This Thailand law firm offers comprehensive legal services in Thailand to both local and foreign clients for Litigation such as civil & criminal cases, labor disputes, commercial cases, divorce, adoption, extradition, fraud, and drug cases. Other legal expertise of the law firm varied in cases involving corporate law such as company registration & Thailand BOI, family law, property law, and private investigation.