SLAPP suits & Law Reform
George Pring and Penelope Canaan, SLAPPS: Getting Sued for Speaking Out
(1st ed, 1996).
The definitive work which
defined SLAPP suits (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation), this
contains American case studies and legislation proposals.
They have also listed a bibliography
of sources for those wanting to do serious research.
Website page on SLAPPs
An entry point into a growing self-built (Wiki) resource on SLAPPs. Links to
the definitive Australian list.
Greg Ogle, GAGGED: The Gunns 20 and other law suits
(Envirobook: Sydney 2009)
The inside story of the Hindmarsh
Island defamation cases, an Animal Liberation case, and the Gunns 20 law suit.
Rickarby, "A SLAPP in the Face for Free Speech", New Matilda, 30 January
A summary of key issues across a
range of cases written on the eve of what was going to be the final trial in the
Gunns 20 case.
Brian Walters, Slapping on the Writs: Defamation, Developers and Community
Action (1st ed, 2003).
The most comprehensive book on
SLAPPS in Australia (although focussed mainly on defamation actions) from a
Melbourne Senior Counsel and leading figure in Free Speech Victoria. The book
also contains model anti-SLAPP legislation.
"Defamation Actions Against Public Interest Debate" (Paper delivered to the Free
Speech Committee of Victoria 22nd April 1999).
Now a little dated, this was one
of the first pieces to put a range of cases together and identify a pattern of
suits against activists in Australia, including the importance of sewerage in
Bover and Mark Parnell, "A Protection of Public Participation Act for
South Australia: A Law Reform Proposal"
Contains a useful discussion of why law reform is needed and a summary of
such reforms in other jurisdictions, as well as a proposed draft bill for law in
Australia. This model would positively establish a right of public participation
(as opposed to just limiting the assaults), and is the model preferred by the
Article 19 - the Global Campaign
for Free Expression
Named after Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
this group's website contains a discussion of law reform priciples and
lists 19 principles
for defamation law reform.
Californian Anti-SLAPP Project
Site contains lots of American information and advice, including the
text of the Californian anti-SLAPP legislation, and a
Guide for SLAPP Victims (their guide is a bit too deferential and less
hands-on than this one, but it has useful info).
Sources on Individual Australian Cases
The List of Australian SLAPP suits
Using the Sourcewatch website and wiki technology, this site is developing
into the definitive list of SLAPP suits in each state in Australia. SLAPP suit
recipients may like to add their cases or legal threats to the list.
The Gunns Case
Greg Ogle, "Gunns
Backs Down", New Matilda, 5 February 2010.
A short summary celebrating the end of the Gunns 20 case and reviewing the
disaster it was for Gunns.
Rickarby, "Gunns 20 Case Goes to Trial", 28 January 2010.
A good summary of the issues the week before the scheduled trial.
Greg Ogle, Gunning for Change:
The Need for Public Participation Law Reform, (The Wilderness Society: 2006)
Simon Brown, "My First Lawsuit", Tasmanian Times, 16 April 2006.
Rob White, "Stifling Environmental Dissent: On SLAPPS and Gunns" in
Alternative Law Journal, Vol 30:6, December 2005.
Greg Ogle, "Chilling the Environment
Movement" in Australian Options, Spring 2005.
On Hindmarsh Island litigation
With over dozen defamation cases against media, activists and individuals
(and with others threatened), the Hindmarsh Island bridge saga is a classic
study of litigation against community activists. For information and analysis,
Greg Ogle, "Tricky Legal Business: The Impact of Legal Processes
on the Campaign Against the Hindmarsh Island Bridge" in Impact,
This paper summarises the litigious history, from the activist point
of view, of the campaign until 1999. The original paper (reproduced here) was delivered to the 1998 EDO
Points out how the defamation cases surrounding the Hindmarsh Island
bridge saga have positioned indigenous people politically and made findings
about indigenous people's credibility without ever hearing from them.
A follow-on from the earlier ILB article looking at how the themes
of legal discourses and indigenous marginalisation played out in the judgement
Chapmans v Conservation Council & others.
Mark Parnell, "Hindmarsh Island Bridge Defamation Case",
Impact, (EDO NSW), 2002. Reproduced on the Conservation Council of
A "free speech" critique of the judgement in the Conservation
"Activist gets away with ham campaign", ABC Radio, The Law Report, 9
A discussion of Ralph Hahnheuser winning the Trade
Practices Act case brought against him by shipping companies after he put
pizza ham in the feed of sheep destined for live export. The discussion has the
bush lawyer arguing the civil liberties case, and Simon Ramsay from the
Victorian Farmers Federation trying to justify why the Australian farm lobby
keeps spending millions of dollars on political cases that get nowhere.
David Marr, "10 million ways to fleece a sheep farmer", Sydney Morning
Herald, 7 July 2007.
A very good summary of the end of a huge case brought by
woolgrowers against People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and
Animal Liberation NSW over the issue of mulesing of sheep. The terms of
settlement were a substantial win for the defendants.
Greg Ogle, "Beating a SLAPP suit", Alternative Law
Journal, Vol 32, No.2, June 2007.
A summary of the bush-lawyering approach taken and the
lessons learned from Animal Liberation SA being sued after a raid on a battery
James Prest, "The Muzzling of the Dingo Forest Mob",
Chain Reaction, No. 70, 1994.
An old case, but not one recorded in later sources like
Further Advice Sources
Activist website put together by the National Association of Community
Legal Centres is a good reference point for activist legal advice, as well
containing information on a number of relevant campaigns.
and Mary Heath, "Approaching the Court" in Nonviolence
Today, No. 46, September/October, 1994.
This somewhat dated article applies broad
political theory categories to attempt to explain and advance activist
thinking about how to approach the legal system.
Brian Martin, "How
to Make Defamation Threats Backfire" (2005) 27 (1) Australian Journalism
Protest and the Law:
View , Speech at Adelaide Law Week, 2002.