SLAPPs increasingly threaten democracy in Europe – new CASE report

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Source/Author: EFJ

The Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE) published the 2023 report of SLAPP cases, which the coalition monitors on a rolling basis. This second edition comprises 200+ abusive lawsuits filed after the first reporting period and a broader regional scope than in the first edition. The report scopes the situation in 35 countries, which includes increasingly troubling countries such as Georgia and Greece.

Since 2019, the CASE has worked with Amsterdam Law Clinics to catalogue and analyse SLAPP cases across Europe. In March 2022, CASE published research findings based on the analysis of over 500 SLAPP cases identified in 29 European countries – the first such broad and thorough report examining the scale and impact of abusive litigation in Europe.

Key research findings

  • Year after year, SLAPPs are increasingly a worrying threat to democracy across Europe – CASE’s database has increased from 570 cases in 2022 to over 820 cases in 2023.
  • Most lawsuits are based on national defamation laws or similar provisions on insult or honour.
  • The median value of damages claimed was €15,150.
  • The most likely targets of a SLAPP are journalists, media outlets, editors, activists and NGOs.
  • Abusive legal actions are most commonly launched against individuals, which shows how critical it is for a support network to be available.
  • The most common SLAPP litigants are those in positions of power, namely, businesses and politicians.
  • A notable number of SLAPP lawsuits were mapped in Malta, France, Croatia, Greece, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Georgia.
  • SLAPPs mostly target action or publication on corruption, government, business and environmental issues.

Though the data illustrates the nature of SLAPPs in Europe and identifies the conditions that commonly give rise to SLAPPs, it does not map the full scale of the problem for a number of reasons, including the likelihood of unidentified SLAPPs. Nevertheless, this research report serves as a window onto the gravity of the SLAPP situation and as a stimulus for debate about the vital need for robust anti-SLAPP legislation.

Read more on the CASE website: https://www.the-case.eu/slapps/