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Strategic lawsuits against public participation


Queen's room, Middle Temple, London (or remotely via zoom)


July 11 2022

The concept of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) is increasingly relevant to those in practice. They arise principally in the form of actions for defamation but the description can be applied to any lawsuit that has been brought for the purpose of deterring scrutiny or criticism rather than truly seeking relief. The costs of defending SLAPPs can be ruinous. The threat of potential SLAPPs amount to a significant interference with fundamental rights & democratic values, in particular freedom of expression. There is widespread recognition that a legislative response is needed. The European Commission has recently proposed a Directive that aims to equip both national courts & those targeted by SLAPPs to take action against manifestly unfounded or abusive court proceedings, with legislative initiatives also proposed in England & Wales, Ireland & elsewhere. Our panel will consider not only the wider effects of both SLAPPs themselves & proposed anti-SLAPP legislation but also the implications for individual practitioners & the ethical obligation to abide by the “cab rank rule”, as well as the particular problem arising where the United Kingdom’s accession to the Lugano Convention has been blocked, preventing the UK courts in certain cases from declining jurisdiction based on clear reciprocal rules & thus creating an attractive forum for those seeking to initiate abusive proceedings.


Dr Roya Sangi is an attorney-at-law at Redeker in Berlin. She is a member of the Constitutional Law Committee of the German Bar Association and of the European Commission’s Expert Group against Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. She studied law and political philosophy in Tehran, Hamburg and Barcelona before working as a legal clerk in the chambers of the president of the Federal Constitutional Court. She holds a doctorate in European and constitutional law and has been a lecturer at the University of Hamburg and a visiting scholar at Boston University. She currently lectures in constitutional law at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg.

Paul McGarry SC was chair of the Bar of Ireland from 2016–2018 and is a member of the Law Library in Dublin and Six Pump Court Chambers in London. Called to the Inner Bar in 2010, he is currently vice-president of Arbitration Ireland and head of the Irish delegation to the Council of European Bars.  He is a former chair of both the EU Bar Association and the Sports Law Bar Association of Ireland. He is a bencher of King’s Inns and a Master of the Bench at Middle Temple. His practice is primarily in EU, public and commercial law.

Greg Callus is a barrister specialising in media law, primarily defamation, privacy, confidentiality, data protection and freedom of information, with a particular focus on private international law. Formerly a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia Journalism School, he worked as a comment moderator at The Guardian through law school. After a pupillage, he worked for Sir Brian Leveson PQBD and Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd LCJ, before taking tenancy at specialist media law chambers 5RB in 2015. He also spent seven years as editorial complaints commissioner at the Financial Times and edits the White Book commentary on contempt of court. He tweets as @Greg_Callus.

Nick Vineall QC is joint head of chambers at 4 Pump Court and vice-chair of the Bar of England and Wales. He chaired the Bar Council Education & Training Committee until 2021 and continues to chair the Regulatory Review Working Group. He is a Bencher of Middle Temple and sits as a Deputy High Court Judge. He has a wide-ranging commercial practice, with particular experience in commercial litigation and arbitration, shipping, shipbuilding and offshore construction, energy and natural resources, construction and engineering and financial services.


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