On 27 April 2022, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a directive aimed at protecting persons who engage in public participation against manifestly unfounded or abusive civil court proceedings with cross-border implications, which is now being analysed by the co‑legislators. The proposal is accompanied by a recommendation to the Member States setting out guidance to address purely domestic cases of SLAPPs.
The proposed directive would introduce the following safeguards for Human Rights Defenders and journalists targeted by SLAPP:
. In cases of SLAPP that have no real legal basis, and which contain a cross-border element (i.e. someone from one MS being prosecuted in a different MS), judges would have the power to dismiss such cases early if the Human Rights Defender applied for early dismissal.
. If the case was dismissed, the party that
brought the charges would be required to pay for all the procedural costs (paying for lawyers, etc.) of the case and/or monetary compensation if awarded to the Human Rights Defender.
. The Human Rights Defender targeted by the case may then receive compensation.
. The court would also be able to impose fines or other penalties on the party that brought the Human Rights Defender to court in order to discourage future cases of SLAPPs(1)
(1)European Commission. 2022. Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on protecting persons who engage in public participation from manifestly unfounded or abusive court proceedings (“Strategic lawsuits against public participation”). Available at: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52022PC0177