Committee takes evidence on Government’s proposals to tackle SLAPPs
6 May 2022
The Justice Committee will explore the case for reform to tackle strategic lawsuits against pubic participation (SLAPPs) in a one-off evidence session.
- Watch the session on Parliament TV: Strategic lawsuits against public participation
- Non-inquiry session page: Strategic lawsuits against public participation
- Justice Committee
About the session
SLAPPs are considered to be deliberately vexatious cases brought by individuals or corporations to prevent the publication of information that would be in the public interest. They typically involve expensive and time-consuming litigation, or the threat of it, which is intended to intimidate defendants into silence.
The UK’s legal system, where defendants need to prove that a ‘defamatory statement’ is true and costs are high, has made it a particularly attractive destination for claimants bringing SLAPP cases. Recent high-profile examples include the cases brought against journalist Tom Burgis, on the publication of his book, Kleptopia, and Financial Times reporter Dan McCrum, over his reporting on Wirecard.
The Government has announced its intention to end the use of UK courts to evade scrutiny. It has proposed a range of measures including establishing a legal definition of SLAPPs, strengthening the ‘public interest’ defence and imposing restraint orders on repeat litigants bringing baseless claims. It is currently consulting on the proposals.
In the session, the Justice Committee will explore the case for reform to tackle SLAPPs and the likely impact of the Government’s proposals. It will consider how a balance can be maintained between protecting legitimate inquiry in the public interest and the right to protect private interest from unjustified intrusion.
- Dr Peter Coe, Lecturer in Law at University of Reading
- Rupert Cowper-Coles, Partner at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP
- Catrin Evans QC, Barrister at Matrix Chambers
- Justin Rushbrooke QC, Joint Head of Chambers at 5RB
- Michelle Stanistreet, General Secretary at National Union of Journalists
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