A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP)
- is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics
- by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense
- until they abandon their criticism or opposition.
- Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech.
The typical SLAPP plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit
- The plaintiff's goals are accomplished,
- if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs, or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism.
- In some cases, repeated frivolous litigation against a defendant may:
--- raise the cost of directors and officers liability insurance for that
--- party, interfering with an organization's ability to operate
--- intimidate others from participating in the debate
- A SLAPP is often preceded by a legal threat.
The problem is that the plaintiffs do not admit their intent to intimidate
- Hence, the difficulty in drafting SLAPP legislation, and in applying it, is
- to craft an approach, which affords an early termination to invalid abusive suits,
- without denying a legitimate day in court to valid good faith claims.
- Thus, anti-SLAPP laws target tactics used by SLAPP plaintiffs
Common anti-SLAPP laws include measures such as:
- penalties for plaintiffs, who file lawsuits ruled frivolous and
- special procedures, where a defendant may ask a judge to consider that a lawsuit is a SLAPP
--- (and usually subsequently dismiss the suit).
Anti-SLAPP laws occasionally come under criticism:
- that there should not be barriers for those, who sincerely believe they have been wronged
- regardless of ulterior motives.
- Nonetheless, anti-SLAPP laws are generally considered to have a favorable effect, and
- many lawyers have fought to enact stronger laws protecting against SLAPPs