NUJ welcomes decision by High Court in SLAPPs case

  • 12 May 2022

The majority of a legal claim targeting Swedish journalists, filed in London by Swedish businessman Svante Kumlin, has been dismissed. 

In 2020, business news site Realtid published reports about Eco Energy World, a company owned by Swedish businessman Svante Kumlin. Kumlin sued Realtid, its editor in chief Camilla Jonnsson and journalists Per Agerman and Annelie Östlund, claiming articles published resulted in serious reputational harm. 

At this week’s NUJ “Let’s stop SLAPPs” webinar on 10 May, Agerman and Östlund shared the emotional and financial distress that being subject to the SLAPP has caused.  

Despite living in Monaco, Kumlin was able to file his lawsuit in London, meaning proceedings have been taking place in British courts. The NUJ has previously called for reform to UK law to prevent the increasing use of such “libel tourism”. 

A judgement handed down by Mr Justice Knowles on 11 May dismissed the majority of the claim, finding Kumlin “has failed to displace the general position that his centre of interests is Monaco, where he is habitually resident.”

It states: 

“I have concluded on balance that the Claimant does not have a good arguable case that England and Wales is his centre of interests.” 

The ruling will allow a small number of cases as part of the suit to proceed in London. 

Earlier this week, Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary gave evidence to the Justice Committee about the impact of SLAPPs, as a method of influencing editorial decisions and deterring journalists in their reporting through harassment and intimidation.  

Welcoming yesterday's judgement she said: 

“This is a clear SLAPPs case designed to stymie reporting whilst abusing British legislation. We welcome the decision to dismiss the vast majority of the claim and call for Svante Kumlin to now drop the remainder of his baseless suit.”

Government’s urgent call for evidence on the use of SLAPPs in England and Wales is welcoming submissions until 19 May. The NUJ is urging members to share their views. Read our guidance 

Find out more about the evidence call.

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