Legal Entities May Claim General Damages In Defamation Matters
A trading corporation has an interest in its reputation that requires legal protection
In Media 24 Ltd & Others v SA Taxi Securitisation & Others,
the Supreme Court of Appeal found that atrading corporation has an interest in its reputation that requires legal protection and therefore legal entities may claim general damages in defamation matters even though they are not natural persons.
Four judges held that it would be unfair discrimination to disallow these actions by legal entities while such a remedy is available to natural persons.
However, the respondent, SA Taxi Securitisation, was prohibited from continuing with its R20m claim against Media24 and City Press. The media group had objected in the South Gauteng High Court to the general claim for R250 000 on the grounds that only natural persons may pursue such a claim. It also argued that the R20m special damages claim for loss of income should be rejected as the particulars of claim were flawed. The High Court dismissed both objections, but the SCA upheld the second argument. SA Taxi Securitisation had not claimed in its papers that the ‘highly critical’ article in which the company was alleged to have ‘cheated’ taxi operators was false. The company was refused an opportunity to amend its claim, but may pursue the general damages claim. The company was also ordered to pay the costs in the High Court and SCA.