Brussels, 28.04.2022 – The European Commission’s proposals represent a crucial first step forward in the fight against SLAPPs in Europe. At a press briefing on Thursday 28 April, representatives from the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE) responded to the European Commission’s proposed measures, announced on 27 April, to tackle the growing problem of abusive litigation targeting journalists, activists and other public watchdogs across Europe.
The Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE) welcomes the European Commission’s anti-SLAPP initiative which includes key remedies and procedural safeguards needed in any effective anti-SLAPP legislation. The initiative, which focuses on cross-border cases, recognises that SLAPPs can impact all those who hold the powerful to account. Civil society organisations are encouraged to see that the core components of CASE model directive as well as safeguards we have been advocating for over past years fed into the proposal: specifically, this includes an early dismissal mechanism, a regime of sanctions, and protective measures for those targeted by SLAPPs.
SLAPPs are on the rise, casting a shadow on the vital work of public watchdogs across Europe with a report published by CASE last month finding a rising cumulative trend in SLAPPs since 2015. We strongly support the Commission’s approach in defining SLAPPs with cross-border implications, which takes into account how attempts to limit public participation resonate and impact public interest across borders. We also welcome its recommendation that states ensure that safeguards be applied to all cases beyond the scope of these minimum EU standards.
The initiative sets minimum standards which are crucial for ensuring better protection of public watchdogs. CASE strongly hopes that national decision makers will now truly commit to incorporating these proposed measures into domestic legal frameworks. We remain open to ongoing engagement with the Commission and member states on the implementation process.
SLAPPs are abusive lawsuits that operate through the litigation process to silence critical speech, shut down accountability, and undermine democratic rights.
About the CASE
CASE is a coalition of non-governmental organisations from across Europe united in recognition of the threat posed to public watchdogs by Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs).