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10 Jun 2020

Mwangi Githahu, IOL

Australian mining company takes green activists to court seeking R14.25m in damages


"Australian mining company takes green activists to court seeking R14.25m in damages", 10 June 2020.

Cape Town - History was made on Tuesday when a South African court began hearing a Strategic Litigation against Public Participation (Slapp) suit brought by an Australian mining company against six environmental activists...

Advocate Steven Budlender, representing the defendants, said: ...“Slapp suits are when companies come to court not to vindicate their reputation but to use their resources to silence and intimidate activists.

"What these cases are really about is what protections law offers to activists, lawyers and members of the public who want to criticise corporations - and whether they can take you to court and bankrupt you despite their lack of merit.”

“In a Slapp suit, the purpose is to silence. Either the defendants will have to capitulate, or they are going to have to engage in extensive litigation against plaintiffs who have comparatively endless resources,” he added.

“The only reason the defendants can be here today is because lawyers are offering services pro bono or at a reduced rate. It is not just these defendants who are being intimidated. Think about the next activist or lawyer who would otherwise want to speak out."

Peter Hodes, counsel for the MRC, said: “Although the defendants make a compelling case for abuse of process, they cannot rely on abuse of process as a defence to a substantive claim.”...