Under consideration PE1975: Reform the law relating to Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs)
Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to review and amend the law to prevent the use of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.
Previous action taken
I wrote to the Scottish Government on 29 April 2022 detailing my concerns and asking what plans exist to review the law in relation to SLAPPs. I received a letter in reply on 5 May, the opening of which read.
At this time, the Scottish Government does not plan to undertake a review of SLAPPs." It went on to show some awareness of actions at EU and UK level, but made no commitment to act.
I have also discussed the situation of SLAPPs with Michelle Thomson MSP.
There is an increasing use or threatened use of legal action involving SLAPPs.
SLAPPs are abusive defamation or privacy cases, often initiated by mega-rich individuals with the intention to intimidate and harass individuals and publishers, and prevent them from publishing information of wide public interest.
Those particularly at risk are investigative journalists and their news outlets. Given the cost of defending actions, the mere threat of action can prevent publication.
Such has been the growth in SLAPPs, the UK government launched a consultation on 17 March 2022 (closed 19 May) with a view to reforming the law in England and Wales. On 27 April 2022 the European Union published a draft directive to deal with SLAPPs across all 27 member states. Other countries have previously acted.
Scotland should act too. If we do not, it is likely we will become the chosen destination for defamation and privacy SLAPPs, providing succour to oligarchs.