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Artikel

9 Jun 2020

Autor:
Centre for Environmental Rights (CER)

Environmental defenders and activists in court against SLAPP suits

"Environmental defenders and activists in court against SLAPP suits", 9 June 2020.

Today, environmental attorneys and community activists will be defending a defamation matter known as a SLAPP suit where damages amounting to a total amount of R14,25 million is being claimed by controversial Australian mining company, Mineral Resources Commodities (MRC) and its local subsidiary, MSR...

For the first time in South Africa’s legal history, the concept of SLAPP (Strategic Litigation against Public Participation) is being referred to in legal argument, which states that the defamation proceedings are an abuse of court process and should not be permitted since it is aimed at silencing public criticism regarding environmental issues.  The defendants submit in written argument, that the SLAPP suit brought by the mining company is being brought for the ulterior purpose of discouraging, censoring, intimidating and silencing the defendants, members of civil society, the general public and the media in relation to public criticism of the company...

At this stage of the legal proceedings, Deputy Judge Patricia Goliath will be deciding on what is known as an exception to the special plea brought by the defendants. The mining company has contended that the special pleas raised by the defendants do not give rise to a defence in our law. The defendants in response contend that the exceptions should be dismissed, either on the basis of existing common law or the common law as developed...

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies and the University of Cape Town are admitted as amicus curiae (friends of the court) in this matter and have raised critical issues relating to freedom of expression, including academic freedom...

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