Ministers will support a crackdown on Slapp lawsuits, which are designed to intimidate critics.

Ministers will support a crackdown on Slapp lawsuits, which are designed to intimidate critics.

Ministers will back efforts to combat baseless legal actions that aim to intimidate journalists, scholars, and activists, commonly referred to as strategic lawsuits against public participation (Slapps).

On Friday, Alex Chalk, the secretary of justice, announced that the government will back a private member’s bill presented by Wayne David, a Labour member of Parliament, with the goal of decreasing the occurrence of Slapps in British courts.

According to the government, wealthy individuals frequently use lawsuits as a means to prevent their misconduct from being revealed. These complex legal proceedings are designed to financially drain the defendants.

David’s proposal would give judges the power to reject frivolous lawsuits before they proceed to trial, ensuring that defendants are not burdened with excessive expenses.

The proposed Slapps bill seeks to eliminate the fear of harassment by providing appropriate reparation for those who are targeted by them.

The government has implemented additional legal safeguards regarding economic offenses, but David’s legislation aims to broaden these measures to safeguard freedom of speech for all individuals.

A new method of dismissing Slapps claims would be implemented in order to halt them at the earliest stage, requiring claimants to demonstrate a high likelihood of success before the case is brought to trial.

A safeguard program will be established to defend defendants against claimants who intentionally inflate legal expenses. Currently, the losing party is responsible for covering all costs, but proposed regulations would exempt the defendant from paying the claimant’s costs unless specifically ordered by a judge.

On Friday, David informed Members of Parliament that bullying methods may involve exorbitant legal fees and reparations, resulting in severe outcomes such as financial ruin, homelessness, and job loss, as well as emotional turmoil.

This can lead to significant challenges and emotional stress. Unfortunately, many individuals are unable to cope with these difficulties. In many instances, it is similar to the biblical story of David and Goliath, except David does not have a slingshot to defend himself.

After reviewing his bill for a second time, he stated: “Wealthy, dishonest, and harmful leaders have been utilizing Slapps as a means to intimidate and silence journalists, activists, scholars, and anyone who dares to challenge them and speak out in the name of public welfare.”

“This significant legislation aims to safeguard the right to freedom of speech for all individuals, and I am delighted to see it has garnered the backing of the primary political parties.”

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Chalk expressed gratitude to David for “introducing this significant legislation,” emphasizing the importance of free speech and a free press in our democracy. He also stated that restricting people’s voices in this manner is concerning and stifling.

He stated that our goal is for individuals to have the courage to confront corruption, knowing that the law is on their side.

It has been alleged that Russian billionaires have resorted to legal action against those who criticize them. Roman Abramovich recently reached a settlement in a defamation case brought against HarperCollins and author Catherine Belton. The case was related to her book “Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and then Took on the West,” which accused Abramovich of purchasing the Chelsea football club in 2003 under orders from the Russian president. This claim was refuted by both Abramovich’s spokesperson and the club.

According to David, not all Slapp claims were well-known. He has also come across instances where patients who left negative reviews for failed plastic surgeries were faced with Slapp claims from the surgeons. Similarly, tenants who spoke out about their unlivable housing have also been met with Slapp claims from their landlords. This is unjust and needs to be put to an end.

According to Chris Clarkson, a member of the Conservative party, he desires the ability to speak freely without relying on parliamentary immunity. He believes that the current legal system is being manipulated to undermine a key principle of democracy, making it difficult for him to speak without fear or bias.

Shadow Justice Minister, Kevin Brennan, stated in the House of Commons that his party backs the bill. He also mentioned that it is a positive move towards safeguarding freedom of speech and allowing individuals to report on misconduct without facing consequences.