Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP)

Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) refers to an action whether civil, criminal or administrative, brought against any person, institution or any government agency or local government unit or its officials and employees, with the intent to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse that such person, institution or government agency has taken or may take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights. (Rule 1, Section 4(g) of A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC)

Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). - A legal action filed to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse that any person, institution or the government has taken or may take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights shall be treated as a SLAPP and shall be governed by these Rules. (Section 1 of Rule 6 of A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC)

SLAPP as a defense; how alleged. - In a SLAPP filed against a person involved in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment, or assertion of environmental rights, the defendant may file an answer interposing as a defense that the case is a SLAPP and shall be supported by documents, affidavits, papers and other evidence; and, by way of counterclaim, pray for damages, attorney’s fees and costs of suit. (Section 2 of Rule 6 of A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC)

The court shall direct the plaintiff or adverse party to file an opposition showing the suit is not a SLAPP, attaching evidence in support thereof, within a non-extendible period of five (5) days from receipt of notice that an answer has been filed.

The defense of a SLAPP shall be set for hearing by the court after issuance of the order to file an opposition within fifteen (15) days from filing of the comment or the lapse of the period.

Summary hearing. - The hearing on the defense of a SLAPP shall be summary in nature. The parties must submit all available evidence in support of their respective positions. The party seeking the dismissal of the case must prove by substantial evidence that his act for the enforcement of environmental law is a legitimate action for the protection, preservation and rehabilitation of the environment. The party filing the action assailed as a SLAPP shall prove by preponderance of evidence that the action is not a SLAPP and is a valid claim. (Section 3 of Rule 6 of A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC)

Resolution of the defense of a SLAPP. - The affirmative defense of a SLAPP shall be resolved within thirty (30) days after the summary hearing. If the court dismisses the action, the court may award damages, attorney’s fees and costs of suit under a counterclaim if such has been filed. The dismissal shall be with prejudice.If the court rejects the defense of a SLAPP, the evidence adduced during the summary hearing shall be treated as evidence of the parties on the merits of the case. The action shall proceed in accordance with the Rules of Court. (Section 4 of Rule 6 of A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC)
In criminal procedure, the manner by which to allege that a criminal action is a SLAPP is through a motion to dismiss rather than a motion to quash. A motion to dismiss allows the action to be challenged as a SLAPP, while a motion to quash is directed at the Information. Moreover, granting a motion to dismiss bars the refiling of a SLAPP in accordance with the law of the case. In contrast, the grant of a motion to quash does not bar the filing of a subsequent Information.

A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech. In the typical SLAPP, the plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff's goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs, or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. In some cases, repeated frivolous litigation against a defendant may raise the cost of directors and officers liability insurance for that party, interfering with an organization's ability to operate. (Strategic lawsuit against public participation. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. en.wikipedia.org)

A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate. A SLAPP is often preceded by a legal threat.

There is a difficulty in that plaintiffs do not present themselves to the court admitting that their intent is to censor, intimidate, or silence their critics. Hence, the difficulty in drafting SLAPP legislation, and in applying it, is to craft an approach which affords an early termination to invalid, abusive suits, without denying a legitimate day in court to valid good faith claims. Thus, anti-SLAPP laws target tactics used by SLAPP plaintiffs. Common anti-SLAPP laws include measures such as penalties for plaintiffs who file lawsuits ruled frivolous and special procedures where a defendant may ask a judge to consider that a lawsuit is a SLAPP (and usually subsequently dismiss the suit). Anti-SLAPP laws occasionally come under criticism from those who believe that there should not be barriers to the right to petition for those who sincerely believe they have been wronged, regardless of ulterior motives. Nonetheless, anti-SLAPP laws are generally considered to have a favorable effect, and many lawyers have fought to enact stronger laws protecting against SLAPPs. (Strategic lawsuit against public participation. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. en.wikipedia.org)

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