Thai Resort Sues Expat Over Negative Review

by Admin on September 29, 2020

A resort in Koh Chang has filed a criminal complaint against US citizen Wesley Barnes after the American submitted a bad review on TripAdvisor. The resort is suing the man under the defamation law, claiming Barnes has defamed the resort’s reputation.

Defamation law in Western countries is normally a civil case, wherein the court can impose monetary award judgments but not impose a prison sentence. Many Westerners who do not understand Thailand law end up as defendants in criminal cases in Thailand based on defamation. Unfortunately, ignorance of the Thai law is not a defense.

The incident occurred this past June, when Barnes and a friend walked into a restaurant in the Sea View Resort and allegedly brought in their own alcohol and refused to pay the corkage fee. After the pair left, Barnes left a series of bad reviews on TripAdvisor about the restaurant, stating his negative experience was due to the “unfriendly staff” and “impolite manager”. Due to the review, the resort filed a criminal complaint and Barnes is currently on bail.

Section 326 of the Thai Criminal Code labels defamation as “whoever imputes anything about another person to a third person in a manner likely to impair the person’s reputation or place the person in contempt or hatred by others”. An act of defamation “committed by publication or other media” carries a fine of up to 200,000 baht and up to two years jail time. Therefore, Barnes is subject to these conditions.

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