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NMA Responds To Second Reading of SLAPP Bill

23 February 2024

“We welcome the aims of the Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation Bill, now having had its second reading in the Commons today, and the cross-party commitment it enjoys, to outrule the use of SLAPPs once and for all.  These abhorrent practices must be dismissed promptly and efficiently to safeguard the rights of journalists, activists, campaigners, and whistleblowers from any form of unjustified censorship and intimidation.

“Minister Freer rightly acknowledged that ‘the whole purpose of this Bill is to tackle such behaviour’.

“However, to effectively achieve the Bill’s aims, two simple amendments are required – to replace the complex subject test with a straightforward objective one, based on the identifiable features of abuse; and ensure that these powers do not undermine any existing laws they are seeking to uphold, in particular the public interest test in the Defamation Act.

“These small changes are necessary to ensure the Bill can achieve its purpose and protect freedom of speech for all, not just the rich.”


  • The definition of a SLAPP currently in the Bill as drafted will create unnecessary complexities through protracted satellite litigation and increased costs. This would seriously undermine the fundamental objective of a Bill intended to empower courts to assess and dismiss SLAPP claims swiftly at an early stage.