Update: HK court recognizes defence of “reportage” in defamation cases

Feb 12, 2015

by Doreen Weisenhaus with contributions by Rick Glofcheski and Yan Mei Ning (Expanded Second Edition, Hong Kong University Press 2014)

February 12, 2015 (Deacons) — In the recent case of Jigme Tsewang Athoup v Brightec Ltd & Anor, Hong Kong’s High Court (Court of First Instance) held that “reportage” is available in Hong Kong to a journalist or publisher, as a defence to an action for defamation.  Reportage is the neutral reporting of the fact that statements have been made by and which are attributed to another person, not the reporting of statements as a representation of the facts. This is the first time that a journalist or publisher had sought to rely on reportage (a new variant of Reynolds privilege) in Hong Kong and the judgment will have an impact on Hong Kong’s freedom of press.  The judgment (released January 13, 2015) details the matters which the court will take into account when deciding whether the defence of reportage has been made out.

For more on legal analysis of this case, see Deacon’s report here and Conventus Law blog here.