HomeInsightsGovernment launches urgent open consultation on Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPS)

Article by

The Government explains that SLAPPs can be characterised as an abuse of the legal process, where the primary objective is to harass, intimidate and financially and psychologically exhaust one’s opponent via improper means. These actions are typically initiated by reputation management firms and framed as defamation or privacy cases brought by individuals or corporations to evade scrutiny in the public interest.

The call for evidence sets out the background of SLAPPs, the nature of the problem they represent and the characteristics of this type of lawsuit.

A range of reform options are considered:

  • legislative options: establishing a statutory definition of SLAPPs to help identify relevant cases and form the basis for their being subject to a separate case and costs management regime;
  • defamation reform options: adoption of a new approach to dealing with SLAPPs, such as introducing an “actual malice” threshold for SLAPP claimants;
  • procedural reforms reforming existing court procedures to enable courts to manage SLAPPs cases in a fair and proportionate manner, e.g., amending the “strike out” procedure for claims which are an abuse of process;
  • regulatory reforms: considering the recent guidance from the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the consultation seeks responses on whether those subject to SLAPPs have raised concerns or complaints with regulators; and
  • costs reforms: introducing a costs-capping system in SLAPPs cases.

In addition to seeking views on those proposals, the consultation invites those who have been subject to SLAPPs or who have an interest to share their experiences. The deadline for responses is 19 May 2022. To access the consultation, click here.

Expertise