A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that has the goal of shutting down opponents. They tend to be used as a strategy to shut down poor NGOs or poor people who can’t afford to defend themselves in a lengthy legal battle. SLAPPs tie up the courts while shutting down debate – bad for democracy and bad for all of society.
Ontario has joined many other parts of the world in passing legislation to stop SLAPPs.
The new act, which will become law in Ontario upon Royal Assent, contains a number of elements that will reduce the risk of citizens being threatened with legal action when speaking out on matters of public interest, including:
- A new fast-track review process that will allow the courts to quickly identify and deal with strategic lawsuits
- New protections for individuals from defamation lawsuits when their concerns are reported to the public through a third party, such as a blogger or a reporter
- Faster and less expensive procedures at boards and tribunals that will allow parties to make written submissions about legal costs instead of making submissions in person.
Thanks to Delaney!