UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab set out a package of measures targeting the so-called “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation” (SLAPP) on Wednesday July 20. This includes a new mechanism to allow courts to dismiss unsubstantiated claims faster and a cap on costs to prevent mega-rich such as Russian oligarchs from using expensive litigation as a weapon to silence their critics.
SLAPPs typically involve wealthy individuals or large companies using the threat of endless legal action and the associated costs, sometimes running into the millions of pounds, to gag their opponents under libel and privacy laws. This tactic is increasingly used to intimidate journalists, authors and activists into limiting or abandoning critical stories or books. Most cases never make it to court because the perpetrators often back down under a barrage of aggressive legal letters, with many retracting the stories out of fear of financial ruin.
Responses to a government evidence request filed today revealed that this is having a chilling effect. Journalists, media organizations and publishers reported that they no longer publish information about certain people or topics, such as reporting serious wrongdoing or corruption, due to potential legal costs. Ministers are determined to end this intimidation and protect UK press freedom and will legislate as soon as possible.
Deputy Prime Minister, Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab said: “We will not allow Putin’s financiers to exploit the legal jurisdiction of the UK to gag his critics.”
“So today I am announcing reforms to uphold free speech, end the abuse of our justice system, and defend those who bravely shine a light on corruption.”
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.