Imprint:Wilfrid Laurier University Press - Waterloo, ON
Dimensions:9in x 6 x 0.5 in | 300 gr
Page Count:182 pages
Study of strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPPs) examines the dangers SLAPPs pose to political expression and to the quality and integrity of our democratic political institutions. Explores the need to regulate SLAPPs in Canada and assesses various regulatory proposals.
Strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP) involves lawsuits brought by individuals, corporations, groups, or politicians to curtail political activism and expression. An increasingly large part of the political landscape in Canada, they are often launched against those protesting, boycotting, or participating in some form of political activism.
A common feature of SLAPPs is that their intention is rarely to win the case or secure a remedy; rather, the suit is brought to create a chill on political expression. Blocking Public Participation examines the different types of litigation and causes of action that frequently form the basis of SLAPPs, and how these lawsuits transform political disputes into legal cases, thereby blocking political engagement. The resource imbalance between plaintiffs and defendants allows plaintiffs to tie up defendants in complex and costly legal processes. The book also examines the dangers SLAPPs pose to political expression and to the quality and integrity of our democratic political institutions. Finally, the book examines the need to regulate SLAPPs in Canada and assesses various regulatory proposals.
In Canada, considerable attention has been paid to the “legalization of politics” and the impact on the Charter in diverting political activism into the judicial arena. SLAPPs, however, are an under-studied element of this process, and in their obstruction of political engagement through recourse to the courts they have profound implications for democratic practice.
This book will examine the phenomena of strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPPs) in Canada. SLAPPs are legal cases brought by individuals, corporations, groups, or governments in order to curtail political activism and expression. The most common form of SLAPP alleges a breach of a private right – often defamation, slander or libel – and makes a large claim for damages or seeks an injunction. These cases are frequently brought against individuals associated with social movement organizations that are protesting, boycotting, or otherwise engaged in some form of political activism. Corporations, for example will sue activists who might be supporting or calling for a boycott of their products. While SLAPPs take on a number of different forms, and cover a wide range of activities, one common feature is the fact that the intention behind the litigation is rarely to actually win the case or secure a remedy. Rather, the case is brought to create a chill on political participation and expression. In most SLAPP cases, the first stage of the litigation may be to request an injunction, ordering activists to cease their activities. The litigation can become a long drawn out, and expensive process, ostensibly designed to bankrupt the defendants and divert resources away from political activities toward defending the claim. SLAPPs are often settled out of court, usually with an order to keep the details of the settlement confidential and that further restricts activists’ activities.
“Blocking Public Participation is both scholarly and accessible, and it makes an important contribution to Canadian political and environmental studies. Making excellent use of cases, the book reveals the extent to which strategic litigation has become a serious threat to public engagement in administrative decision making and critical political discourse. It also sheds light on how the internal logic of civil actions fails to provide disincentives for strategic lawsuits, and on the role of courts in the unwitting suppression of legitimate and otherwise legal expressions of political dissent. In these respects the book is a valuable manifestation of and is a vehicle for mobilizing knowledge among politicians, academics, the general public, and social movement organizations in aid of much-needed political and legal reform.” - Alan Diduck, Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences, The University of Winnipeg
“An erudite examination of how lawsuits brough by individuals, corporations, groups, or politicians have been wielded like a club to beat political activism into submission.... Blocking Public Participation warns of a dangerous and possibly growing new threat to the fundamental principles of democratic government, and is worthy of the highest recommendation for public and college library political science collections.” - Political Science Shelf, Midwest Book Review