The Bush Lawyer's Guide to


Having Fun with Litigation

Defamation Commercial Torts Trade Practices Abuse of Process

A Guide for Political Activists by Dr Greg Ogle

Surviving Suits

A Guide for Political Activists

What you might get sued for

Avoiding defamation suits

Protest risk minimisation

Responding to legal threats

Further information sources

Law Reform

Sport! Having fun with litigation

Being a Bush Lawyer

Bush Lawyer Awards

Threatening Wallpaper


Bush Lawyer Cases & Politics

Beating a SLAPP suit: Animal Lib SA

Gunning for Change: The Need for Public Participation Law Reform

The Gunns Case: Chilling the Environment Movement

Bruce Donald summarises a number of cases of "Defamation Against Public Interest Debate"

Hindmarsh Island - early days

Approaching the Court


This website is authorised by Greg Ogle on behalf of Bush Lawyers Ink, a not for profit legal service brought to you by the legal system's inability to protect the community's right and ability to participate in public debate and protest.


Litigation as sport

Litigation should be approached as sport - it is obviously adversarial and competitive, but it is actually most like a life-sized game of chess:

  • it is hierarchic, rule-bound, and the men all wear fancy-dress;
  • players take it in turns, and each move is calculated to mount pressure over time;
  • the aim is generally to get the other side to concede, rather than to go to checkmate/trial.

Happy note: although litigation is distressing, considerably less people die from litigation than were killed in the medieval wars on which chess is based!

For those hardened by too cases and legal threats, and for those whose financial and personal circumstances allow, then it may well be time to play the game of litigation and have some fun.

Seeing litigation as sport allows you to:

  • be proactive and empowered

(as opposed to following lawyers' rules and advice)

  • create new platforms for your political issue

(eg. going to court opens up whole new avenues for media interest and publicity)

  • make serious political points not easily made in usual judicial surrounds

(eg. Animal Liberation showing they are not intimidated by being sued by serving legal responses while wearing a chicken costume)

  • keep sane within a system that is sufficiently out of touch with reality that it does not recognise its own unreality

(how else do you cope with a judge enquiring about your sewer system in order to determine whether you were malicious in publishing an article about the effect of litigation on public debate! [Yes, that actually happened])

  • make the bastards pay!

(by being uncomfortable, not knowing what you are up to, or just having to do more work to react to your fun)

Too many good people and organisations have been ground down by litigation that drags over years at great financial and emotional costs. This is simply unjust, but surely at the heart of community politics is the concept of empowerment. Must we abandon that when the writ is served?

Instead of going to court like lambs to the judicial slaughter, we should view court as another political arena and ask what we can get out of it, how can we further our cause by being active in it, and how can we ensure people want to be part of the campaign (case).

A few sporting examples:

  • Steel and Morris in the McLibel case getting senior company executives to say under oath that they thought their products were healthy because they contained water!

  • Animal Lib getting itself sued for producing a T-shirt and then making a media event by the legal argument against an injunction (click for more info)

  • The Wilderness Society delivering a birthday cake to Gunns who was suing them in a massive case - just to be clear that environmentalists were not intimidated by a legal case

  • The bush lawyer responding to personal service at one's home by finding out where the opposing lawyer lived and serving the response at their house (just so the litigious invasion of personal space did not go all one way)

  • Another bush lawyer setting sporting goals like writing to or ringing the other lawyers at least once a week on some ground or another - just to keep in touch (at $X per minute) and ensure good case-flow

  • Competitions between bush lawyers to see who can come up with the most creative defence or the stupidest legal term (bonus points for Latin). Note: the same game is often played by those suing when creating inuendoes for what your statements meant!

  • Taking the concept of suits against activists (sometimes referred to as Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation - a SLAPP suit) into the court - literally!

But ultimately, the most sport is just mimicking the other side's lawyers!

For more fun with litigation, see The Bush Lawyer's Award's for Dealing with Litigation

Remember the bush lawyer's golden rule

Be careful, not silent

Note: This website is inactive and not being maintained. You are welcome to whatever is useful, but no guarantees that it is up to date.