Defamation case law in Hong Kong: A corpus-based study

Le Cheng, Winnie Cheng, Jian Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Defamation law is a long-standing research focus. Previous studies on defamation law have pointed out the importance of balancing two fundamental issues in law, namely, protection of reputation and freedom of speech. The present corpus-based legal study, using ConcGram 1.0 as the analytical tool, examined the phraseological profile of reported cases on defamation in Hong Kong in order to find out the types of defense and the approach to meaning in the defamation case law in Hong Kong. Regarding defenses to a defamation claim, the results show that fair comment, qualified privilege, and justification are the most prevalent types, that unintentional defamation is not used at all, and that there has been a noticeable shift from fair comment to honest comment. As for the approach to meaning, the ordinary and natural approach is found to be a pivotal means of solving the threshold problem in defamation cases, that is, whether the words involved are defamatory or not.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-222
Number of pages20
Issue number208
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Corpus approach
  • Dase law
  • Defamation
  • Defenses
  • Hong Kong
  • Linguistic evidence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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