‘Showing photos of diners can be defamatory’

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 02 Jun 2019

PETALING JAYA: You keep getting customers who evade paying their bills. And yes, it’s tempting to name and shame them.

But criminal lawyer Kitson Foong advised caution if restaurant operators wanted to display CCTV images of offending diners.

“There must be a caption with the photograph asking the person to contact the restaurant as he may have forgotten to pay.”

Otherwise, he said, it could be defamation if the intention was to shame the person or if the display was accusatory in nature.

Another lawyer, Surendra Ananth, said there were aspects of the law that came into play when restaurant owners put up pictures of those who left without paying.

“The first is defamation. This depends on how the photos are displayed and described.

“This is because the justification is a defence to defamation. If it is just a recording or a photo shown with factual description of what happened, then arguably the shop owner is just stating a fact.

“But let’s say you label them ‘thieves’. This implies the person intentionally committed a crime.”

He said the shop owner might get into trouble in scenarios where the patron simply forgot to pay up.

“In such a case, there is no intention to commit a crime,” he added.

Selangor police chief Comm Datuk Noor Azam Jamaludin urged restaurant owners to lodge police reports if they suffered losses due to non-paying customers.

He said there had been no such reports.

“Putting up photographs of customers who failed to pay their bills is the prerogative of the restaurant operator,” he said, adding that some of these patrons could have just been forgetful.

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