EU puts a stop to abusive SLAPP lawsuits

Graphic: SLAPP suits are intended to silence critics Intimidation lawsuits intended to silence critics, or SLAPPs, are a serious problem in the EU (© Umweltinstitut München e.V.)

Feb 27, 2024

The EU is finally getting a directive to combat strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPPs. Environmental activists and journalists in Europe will now have better protection against such lawsuits. The new directive will make it harder for corporations and powerful individuals to silence critics with abusive lawsuits.

The Anti-SLAPP Directive was overwhelmingly approved: Of the 624 members of the European Parliament present, 546 voted in favor and only 47 voted against.

The European Commission, the European Parliament and European Council had agreed on the directive after lengthy negotiations. The Council, which brings together the governments of the member states, had wanted to water down the draft considerably, but this was successfully prevented. The directive is called “Daphne’s Law” in memory of investigative journalist and anti-corruption activist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was murdered by car bomb in Malta. At the time of her death, she was facing no less than 48 libel suits. Learn more on social media at #DaphnesLaw.

“Our work will benefit greatly from this directive,” said Rainforest Rescue Co-Chair Bettina Behrend. “If it had been passed earlier, the Indonesian company Korindo would not have been able to drain our time and energy for three years with an abusive lawsuit. But we chose not to be intimidated and instead committed ourselves to raising awareness of the issue and putting a stop to SLAPPs at EU level.”

Rainforest Rescue (Rettet den Regenwald e.V.) was one of the first members of the European CASE network to campaign for the directive, together with Umweltinstitut München and other organizations. On January 31, 2022, we personally delivered the petition and its 213,432 signatures to Commissioner Věra Jourová in Brussels. The Vice-President of the EU Commission then presented an ambitious proposal for a directive.

Our involvement in SLAPPs was prompted by a lawsuit brought against us by the Indonesian company Korindo for criticizing its destruction of rainforest in Papua province After three years of litigation, the plaintiff settled the case and agreed to pay three-quarters of the legal costs.

Having reached our goal, we are closing the petition with 230,774 signatures, including 116,946 from Rainforest Rescue supporters. We will continue to work within our European and German alliances to ensure that the German government implements the directive into a national law with teeth.

  1. Anti-SLAPP DirectiveSLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.

  2. Daphne’s Law

    A brief analysis of the directive can be found here.

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