Report: 157 new SLAPP cases in 2022, driven by Croatia, Georgia and France

By Miquel Sánchez

After pioneering a report in March 2022 that provided a broad and comprehensive overview of the growing threat of SLAPPs in Europe, CASE and The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation have published the report’s second edition based on more than 500 SLAPP cases collected since 2010.

The initial report presented a detailed and bleak picture of how powerful people are using lawsuits to intimidate and silence acts of public participation across the continent. Of all the documented cases, CASE found that Daphne Caruana Galizia was the most frequent target of SLAPP lawsuits since they started their records.

They also found that the number of SLAPP suits across Europe is increasing year on year, becoming a pan-European phenomenon that needed to be addressed in a coherent manner.

Following the presentation of the initial report, European Commission Vice-President Věra Juorová announced new measures against SLAPPs, including a draft law she dubbed the “Daphne Law”. According to CASE, 15 months after the announcement of the EU law, there are still more than 200 lawsuits in their SLAPP database, while EU institutions are debating the legal technicalities that will determine the strength of protection against vexatious lawsuits thrust upon journalists and activists in the EU.

NGOs, media outlets, journalists, activists, politicians and other actors from across Europe helped provide information on SLAPP cases filed in 30 European jurisdictions since 2010: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Based on this data, CASE identified a total of 570 legal cases from across Europe as SLAPPs.

Identifying a SLAPP

To identify them, the report was based on the indicative qualities described in the figure below:

Personal creation: Based on the graph published in August 2023 by the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation and CASE.

Following these parameters, after the publication of the 2022 CASE report, and until the end of that year, a further 157 cases were collected that had occurred in 2022. This was particularly driven by cases from countries such as Croatia, Georgia and France.

Who is the SLAPPer?

The report states that in 2022, a large share of the claims were filed by businesses and entrepreneurs, accounting for almost 40 percent of all cases.

In addition, state entities followed closely behind, accounting for 26.8 percent of the claims. Politicians also accounted for 25 percent. This trend is consistent with that of the last 2022 report, indicating a consistent pattern and affirming that the most frequent litigants in SLAPP cases are persons in positions of power

Of all journalists or activists sued, 8.3 percent in 2022 had criminal repercussions, such as prison sentences. In addition, the results of this report show that the average value of damages claimed was €15150, and the average was €360659.

As CASE continues its vital work of documenting and analysing SLAPP cases, the Association of European Journalists in Belgium (AEJ Belgium) shares the hope that this report will foster a deeper understanding of the issue. 

Furthermore, much remains to be done: We must decriminalise defamation and bring other laws criminalising freedom of speech in line with human rights standards, fully implement the EU’s new law against SLAPPs, provide support for victims, implement professional standards for lawyers and law firms, empower civil society, create or support independent bodies, provide awareness raising and training for stakeholders, and collect and monitor data on SLAPPs to identify trends, positive changes and potential challenges.

Click here to access the 2023 report:

Click here to access the initial 2022 report:

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