Balancing Fundamental Rights in Fighting SLAPPs: An EU Response to Abusive Litigation Against Public Participation
PhD student: Mrs E. Di Franco
Promotor: Mrs Prof M.L.H.K. Claes
Duration: 1/5/2022 - 30/4/2028
Over the past decade, the EU has witnessed a rise in reported lawsuits filed against civil society - primarily journalists, NGOs, and academics - to silence critical public debate. These lawsuits, commonly referred to as SLAPPs, are a poorly understood phenomenon in the European legal sphere due to the lack of legislation regulating the scope of protection against abusive litigation. This project investigates legal measures to counter the impact of SLAPPs on public participation, particularly in the broader context of EU action to uphold the foundational values of the Union and the European Democracy Action Plan. It aims to contribute to the understanding of SLAPPs by reflecting on the balancing of conflicting fundamental rights involved, including for example freedom of expression, privacy, the right to an effective remedy, and the right to a fair trial. It further explores the overarching gaps in legal and judicial protection for SLAPP victims, in order to map existent vulnerabilities in the current system of protection and propose normative action.