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Strategic litigation against public participation bill

On 23 February the Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation Bill, a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Wayne David (Lab), is due to have second reading.

What are SLAPPs?

The Bill is focused on the use of litigation to prevent the publication of information about wrongdoing. This has become known as ‘strategic litigation against public participation’, or SLAPPs. It typically involves the subject of an allegation or investigation of wrongdoing seeking to use the threat of expensive litigation, usually based on a claim that the material is defamatory, to try to prevent publication.

The issue has been the subject of a long-running campaign led by free speech organisations, media practitioners and parliamentarians.

Previous Government action

The Government ran a call for evidence in 2022 and subsequently committed to introducing legislative measures to address the issue. It introduced amendments to the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill in 2023 which set out a statutory definition of a SLAPP and provided for a power to strike out claims at an early stage and protect the defendant from paying costs. Due to the scope of that legislation, the measures only apply to claims relating to economic crime, such as fraud.

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