NUJ welcomes government commitment to SLAPP "clampdown"

  • 17 Mar 2022

A new consultation seeks views on proposals tackling the weaponising of lawsuits to silence journalists.

New government proposals on the use of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs), aiming at curbing their use have been announced.

The National Union of Journalists has been calling for anti-SLAPP legislation recognising the harmful impact SLAPPs have on freedom of speech. Targeted at journalists and publishers, these lawsuits result in large legal bills and are a deliberate attempt to intimidate and harass journalists into silence.

Commenting on the announcement, Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: "for too long the super-rich have got away with abusing the law to bully journalists and undermine media freedom."

She said:

“The NUJ warmly welcomes the commitment by the government to tackle the scourge that is the deployment of SLAPPs and other forms of lawfare cynically designed to stymie journalistic investigations and reporting by the rich and thin-skinned.

“We have long campaigned for low-cost arbitration solutions to settle genuine disputes and would welcome any moves to level the playing field and ensure journalists and media outlets no longer have to face prohibitive costs and deliberate intimidation by wealthy litigants with the deepest of pockets.

“The NUJ will consider the detail of these plans and looks forward to participating in the government’s consultation on its package of measures.”

Government's commitment to strengthen legislation as part of the "clampdown on the abuse of British courts to protect free speech", includes seeking views on whether a cap should be enforced on costs claimants recover. Other proposals include whether courts should have the right to dismiss cases at an early stage in proceedings. 

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