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Article

1 Dec 2021

Author:
Michael Cross, Law Gazette

UK: Anti-SLAPP Working Group proposes legislation against lawsuits designed to silence critical journalism

"Call for shaming of ‘SLAPP’ solicitors", 24 November 2021

Solicitors acting for wealthy individuals, corporations and governments in cases designed to silence critical journalism would be shamed under proposals for measures against so-called 'SLAPP' litigation unveiled by freedom of speech campaigners...

The three-tier proposals were announced at the conference by the UK Anti-SLAPP Working Group. Recommendations include: 

  • Updated practice directions to impose security for costs on claimants and to strengthen the use of strike-out powers against cases bearing the hallmarks of SLAPPs. 
  • A pre-action protocol setting out steps the court would expect parties to take before going to court. This would include engaging in good faith with the right to reply process. This is currently abused by claimants using right of reply to 'intimidate and threaten'... 
  • A call for the Ministry of Justice to consult on an anti-SLAPP law, along the lines of those in 32 US states as well as Australia and Canada. This would include an early dismissal mechanism to filter out SLAPPs. Courts would be empowered to issue security for costs and, where necessary, civil restraint orders along the lines of those imposed on persistently vexatious litigants. 

[...]

The working group's proposals are open for consultation until 31 December.

Timeline