The Law Society has right now echoed requires a clampdown on so-called ‘lawfare’, however warned of ‘unintended consequences’ if reforms should not correctly thought by way of.
Responding to the federal government’s March session on strategic lawsuits in opposition to public participation (SLAPPs), Chancery Lane stresses the significance of readability over precisely what a SLAPP is. ‘Before exploring the issue,’ stated Society president I. Stephanie Boyce, ‘it is important to clarify the parameters of this kind of lawsuit. This would help ensure any remedies are sufficiently targeted and do not have unintended consequences, such as suppressing free speech or restricting access to justice.’
The main target of anti-SLAPP efforts ought to be on bettering present guidelines and process, Chancery Lane believes. That features exploring strategies which might guarantee events function on a extra degree enjoying discipline.
Recommendations embody robust gatekeeping by the judiciary to weed out spurious circumstances, and extra rigorous prices and case administration. Quite a few choices for limiting authorized prices incurred throughout SLAPP litigation could possibly be explored, says the Society. These embody: an indemnity fund to assist poorer events convey or defend a case; deploying authorized support; fixing recoverable prices; assessing the readiness of the courts to permit indemnity prices; and making use of certified ‘one-way’ prices shifting to SLAPP circumstances.
Boyce added: ‘The inequality of arms that usually exists between claimant and defendant actually must be addressed. Decrease prices would profit each events. Wider reforms ought to strike the appropriate stability between freedom of speech – notably the place issues of public curiosity are at stake – and the appropriate to respect for personal life, which incorporates the appropriate to safety of status – that are conflicting components underneath the European Conference of Human Rights.
‘Robust professional rules in place already deal with inappropriate litigation or threats of such litigation of the kind characterised by a SLAPP. We therefore do not believe there should be any special rules in place to handle this.’
In one other session response, the Society of Editors has known as for a brand new anti-SLAPP legislation ’that would introduce procedural reform throughout all legal guidelines used for the aim of intimidation’. The media commerce physique desires to see the introduction of a deserves take a look at to permit early dismissal of circumstances; prices capped at an early stage to discourage circumstances the place the first objective is to empty the defendant’s sources; and punitive/exemplary damages and compensation awarded to SLAPP victims.
All prices ought to robotically be borne by the plaintiff the place the case is discovered to be a SLAPP, it provides.