The Subjective Aspect Of Awards For Defamation Law Suits

How do judges come up with the magic figure for the sum of money to award the plaintiff in a civil law defamation suit?

In addition, how does the judge know how much legal cost to allocate to the winning side's lawyers?

If the plaintiff engages a big team of expensive lawyers led by a famous and popularly-known sure-win $enior counsel, instead of using one reasonably-priced, equally-qualified but not-so-famous counsel, where does the judge draw the line? Or, the sky is the limit?

Does it mean that the legal cost must be tailored to the amount demanded by the winning side only? If so, is it not an unfair and subjective way of allocating costs? What is a fair yardstick of measure? Is there even a fair yardstick in practical existence today?

How does the judge determine how much compensation is fair?

Isn't the whole question of compensation and cost a very subjective issue, left to the arbitrary decision of one imperfect human bean, which is subjected to personal idiosyncrasies and innate biases? And sometimes under pressure of time and stress due to heavy workloads or other reasons.

More often than not, it is a matter of conjuring up a figure by estimating (or guesstimating) in favour of the plaintiff, keeping fingers crossed and hoping that it is acceptable, isn't it?

Why must defamation law suits be pegged to large monetary awards, like tikam tikam, like lottery prizes? Isn't such an award defeats the purpose of the defamation law suit itself? It stinks big time. The bigger the award, the bigger the stinking effect (pun intented).

How does the amount of money restore the fame that is lost?

Money can never replace the damage already inflicted upon the image of the person.

The right thing to do is to order the defendent to retract the offending words that were said or written, make a public apology unreservedly and promise not to repeat the same thing again. (Which were asked for in the first place but the defendent has refused to acceed.)

If money is to be considered as a part of the compensation, a $1 symbolic representation should suffice. Otherwise, the defamation law becomes a vehicle for clever and/or unscrupulous lawyers to exploit for quick and easy personal monetary gains and also as a means to institute vindictive punitive pursuits.

In all fairness, shouldn't there be a limit to the extent to which the monetary compensation and cost can be imposed? Otherwise, as has been seen many times, the civil defamation law has inadvertently allowed the rich and powerful to take advantage over the poor and weak, by suing them "until pants drop", as has been popularly referred to in the streets, and even in the Parliamentary debates!

Justice must be seen to be fair in order to be fair.

From the bottom of my heart,

Yours truly,

The Queen of Hearts.
22 April 2021.


Anonymous said...

Remember in Shakespeare's play about The Merchant of Venice.
The cunning Shylock demands that Antonio pay him the 'pound of flesh' as Antonio for some reason could not repay Shylock as Antonio has agreed to this Unreasonable term on the treaty. Luckily Antonio's Lawyer Portia had seen thru the sly of Shylock which is a ploy to kill Antonio by claiming his pound of flesh, Portia told Antonio to give Shylock a pound of 'pork' flesh with no blood. Shylock was astonished as he saw a pound of pork flesh with no Antonio's blood and exclaimed " I wan his pound of flesh not pork flesh " Portia replied to Shylock U wanna a pound of flesh there u have it your treaty never state got blood so F&@# off lah .

Anonymous said...

If the monetary award is too excessive, without considering fairly on the income and financial position of the defendant, it becomes unreasonably and unnecessarily punitive. As such, the presiding judge becomes defamed by his own judgement. This is ironically laughable.

In addition, if the defendant is unable to pay back, he can declare bankruptcy so that he does not have to pay his creditors, is it not?

So, what really is the purpose of the monetary award? It not only does not un-defame the plaintiff, it becomes ironically an instrument for the judge to be defamed by his on judgement.

Two wrongs do not make one right.

Anonymous said...

Most probable case of David vs Goliath in this tiny rock island is to bankrupt Leony David when he can't pay up so as to silence him as he's the thorn to Loony Goliath. If Leony David still can't be silence anymore, then Loony Goliath might even ask his Minions Liars to sue Leony David till imprison or lifetime imprisonment. It's Shark eat dog world, think that this underdog will never give up & continue biting the Shark's fins till the Shark unable to swim anymore.

loan shark said...

In the first instant, it is the judge who said who is guilty with some very unconvincing judgement. Also how do one measure one reputation? base on one facebook like? if ah long have 1k like before the article is shared...now he have only 100 like..then yes he had suffered. but if he had more like instead..then perhap he should pay the accused instead..what do you think?

Anonymous said...

In fact, and in deeds, Ah Loony's reputation has gone up after Ah Leony's publication of the link.

So, I think the judge should have awarded $130,000 to Ah Leony instead. Make Ah Loony pay Ah Leony with cost.

Why the judge failed to think this way? So simple and straightforward. I think in this case the judge has erred very badly. From the scale of 1 to 10, I give him 3 for professionalism and 10 for political mindfulness.

Anonymous said...

I give:
10 for personal survival instinct
10 for selfish political acumen
2 for professionalism
1 for judgment.

Anonymous said...

If the plaintiff is awarded $133,000 compensation and his lawyer is also awarded $130,000 cost, what implications can the public derive from such judgement?

1. Doesn't it mean that the reputation of the plaintiff is worth only $133,000?

2. Is it a coincidence that the two sums are almost exactly the same, or is it a deliberate, coordinated and calculated endeavour to send a message to the defendant and the public at large?

WS said...

1. The reasons for finding the defendant guilty is not totally convincing.

2. The supporting arguments seem weak and doubtful.

3. If appeal can be made to the Privy Council, as in the past, I believe this case can be overturned easily.

4. It is the larger and long-term implications to the public at large, caused by this questionable judgement, that is of paramount importance.

5. Public interests, the society at large, is more important than the personal individual interest of the plaintiff. The judge should look at the issue against the backdrop of the society at large and rule in favour of the society's long-term interests, instead of a private civil law suit, because this ruling has far-reaching consequences to everyone of us using the cyberspace.

"Fair is foul and foul is fair!" ~ Macbeth, Shakespeare.