The Law Society has at present echoed requires a clampdown on so-called ‘lawfare’, however warned of ‘unintended consequences’ if reforms usually are not correctly thought by means of.
Responding to the federal government’s March session on strategic lawsuits towards 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 focus of anti-SLAPP efforts ought to be on enhancing current guidelines and process, Chancery Lane believes. That features exploring strategies which might guarantee events function on a extra stage taking part in subject.
Recommendations embody robust gatekeeping by the judiciary to weed out spurious instances, and extra rigorous prices and case administration. Quite a few choices for limiting authorized prices incurred throughout SLAPP litigation may very well be explored, says the Society. These embody: an indemnity fund to assist poorer events convey or defend a case; deploying authorized assist; fixing recoverable prices; assessing the readiness of the courts to permit indemnity prices; and making use of certified ‘one-way’ prices shifting to SLAPP instances.
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 fitting stability between freedom of speech – notably the place issues of public curiosity are at stake – and the fitting to respect for personal life, which incorporates the fitting to safety of popularity – that are conflicting parts beneath 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.’