Defamation – Notice published to locate plaintiff who had gone missing, to notify its clients and public that plaintiff had resigned and requiring him to contact to settle outstanding issues – Whether words in notice in ordinary and natural sense meant that person was devoid of integrity

Yokomasu Marketing Sdn Bhd & Anor v Chor Tse Min
 [2017] AMEJ 1548, Court of Appeal
Facts The respondent is a director and sales manager, and the second appellant, a director, of the first appellant, Yokomasu Marketing Sdn Bhd (“the Company”). The first appellant had caused a notice to be published in the Sin Chew Newspaper (“the impugned Notice”) stating the respondent’s resignation from the Company, which the Respondent claimed calculated to expose him to hatred, ridicule or contempt in the mind of a reasonable man and that he was an unethical and dishonest businessman. The Respondent brought a civil suit for defamation against the appellants. The High Court allowed the respondent’s claim. Hence, this appeal.
Issue The main issue is whether the words of the Impugned Notice, in their natural and ordinary meaning imputed that the respondent is a cheat, dishonest, unreliable, incompetent, undignified, and a problematic person, thus amounting to defamation towards the respondent.
Held In allowing the appeal, the Court of Appeal held that any ordinary person reading the impugned Notice would not assume anything defamatory of the same. The impugned Notice did not accuse the respondent of any wrongdoing, but instead stated the need for the respondent to contact the first appellant to settle outstanding issues between them.