SLAPPs reform will help prevent abuses of justice

Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are set to be overhauled in a move welcomed by the Law Society of England and Wales, as the UK government seeks to prevent potential abuses of the administration of justice.

“We are pleased to see the government has taken on board some of our recommendations to ensure SLAPPs do not have a chilling effect on freedom of speech or the right to a private life,” said Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce.

“It is good to see that the inequality of arms that often exists between claimant and defendant – where one party has more financial resource than the other – is going to be addressed. Lower costs would benefit both parties.

“Any changes to the current costs system should be established through careful research and be evidence-based.

“We hope the government commits to consulting on the current Civil Procedure Rules so that existing processes and procedures can be improved to ensure swift and cost-effective justice for all.

“The new three-part test will also go some way to ensuring there is strong gatekeeping by the judiciary and spurious cases do not make it to court.”

Notes to editors

The four features of SLAPPs include:

  • the publication of information which would be in the public interest
  • exhibits certain behaviours such as the abuse of the legal process where the primary objective is to harass, intimidate and financially and psychologically exhaust an opponent via improper means
  • is an unmeritous claim; and
  • meets the appropriate jurisdiction test

The lord chancellor launched the consultation in March 2022 in a bid to respond to the challenges posed by the increasing use of SLAPPs.

Read about the government’s SLAPPs consultation

Read the government’s SLAPPs consultation response press release

Read our consultation response in full

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