Defamation Laws In Taiwan

Article 310 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of China (Taiwan) criminalizes defamation.  As of July 2000, the defamation law prescribed under the Criminal Code the Republic of China (Taiwan) has been upheld by the Council of Grand Justices as constitutional and does not intrude on freedom of expression.

It is interesting to note some of the current cases involving defamation.  As of June 27, 2011, a Taiwanese blogger, was sentenced to 30 days in detention and ordered to pay NT$200,000 (about £11,000) for allegedly writing a defamatory review about a local restaurant. The blogger wrote that the dish she had ordered was too salty and that there were cockroaches on the restaurant premises. The restaurant refuted these claims, sued, and won their claim.  As of March 14, 2012, a Taiwanese was convicted in a civil suit for defamation and was ordered to pay $8000 TWD in compensation ($270 USD) for making insulting remarks about her sister-in-law’s breasts, claiming that the sister-in-law did not have any.

Ever since the 1950s, Taiwan has enjoyed a close relationship with the U.S., and thus American law has increased its influence on Taiwanese law.  Taiwanese legislators have drawn heavily on American theory and practice.  In some court decisions and judicial interpretations, American cases, laws and theories are cited as persuasive authorities.  In the United States, defamation is considered a civil liability issue rather than a criminal responsibility issue.  In Taiwan, criminal libel is alive and active.  In 2000, the Grand Justices demanded the application of the “actual malice” test to constitute criminal libel.   While public figures, especially officials, receive less protection in defamation cases in the United States, Taiwan courts seem to prefer protecting political officials more than civilians and other public figures. Paragraph 3 of Article 310 and Article 311 provide several privileges to the offense:

a)    Truth (used only in the context of public interest).  If the article is only related to the defamed personal life, not the public interest, truth may not be considered as a valid defense.

b)    The statement was disseminated in good will.