South Africa: SLAPP in the Face for Australian Mining Company

  • Western Cape Deputy Decide President Patricia Goliath has dominated that the defamation motion introduced by Australian mining interests against six South Africans constitutes a SLAPP swimsuit.
  • SLAPP is an acronyn for Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation.
  • Decide Goliath acknowledged the lawsuit had been introduced against the six because of the their opposition to the operations of Mineral Commodities and Mineral Sands Sources.
  • The defendants bear hailed the judgment as a victory for free speech.

The R14.25m defamation motion being introduced by Australian mining interests against six South Africans – three environmental attorneys, two community activists and a social worker – suffered a essential situation-abet with an destructive Excessive Court judgment on Tuesday.

Western Cape Deputy Decide President Patricia Goliath dominated that their motion “fits the DNA of a SLAPP swimsuit”.

“The conclusion is incontrovertible that the lawsuit modified into initiated against the defendants because they bear got spoken out and had assumed a roar space in respect of the plaintiffs’ mining operations,” she wrote in her judgment.

SLAPP is an acronym for Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation, and is described as “meritless or exaggerated complaints supposed to intimidate civil society advocates, human rights defenders, journalists, lecturers and other folks apart from organisations appearing in the overall public passion”.

One in all the six defendants, prominent environmental attorney Cormac Cullinan, acknowledged Decide Goliath’s “stable” judgment modified into a basic step in growing total law procedures “to stop the grand abusing authorized processes to silence other folks who expose the ecological and social hurt they reason”.

“That is a basic victory for free speech in the overall public passion,” he added.

In her 35-web page judgment handed down on Tuesday afternoon, Decide Goliath pushed apart with prices an utility by the plaintiffs in the defamation motion: Australian mining corporations Mineral Commodities and Mineral Sands Sources, executive chairman Mark Caruso and gloomy empowerment accomplice Zamile Qunya.

The case didn’t agree with the merits of the alleged defamation of these plaintiffs by the six South African defendants in books, interviews and/or shows, that could bear to quiet be the subject of a paunchy trial at a later date. Moderately, the plaintiffs were objecting to the defendants bringing two particular pleas which raised a recent defence against the alleged defamation.

The defendants argued that the companies, Caruso and Qunya were bringing an effective SLAPP swimsuit against them and that this constituted an abuse of authorized privilege and of the court docket job to enact an crude end: to be obvious the defendants’ future silence about the miners’ controversial actions on the Pondoland flit at Xolobeni and at the Tormin mineral sands mine on the West Hover, and/or to punish them for speaking out.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys denied they were bringing a SLAPP swimsuit, arguing that for authorized complaints esteem their defamation motion to constitute “an abuse of job” their case would prefer to be without real looking grounds and without any obvious merits, which they acknowledged modified into no longer the case.

But Deputy Decide President Goliath came down firmly in favour of the defendants in her judgment, asserting corporations will bear to quiet no longer be allowed to “weaponise our authorized machine” against odd voters and activists in expose to intimidate and silence them.

“The mining corporations are claiming inexplicably exorbitant quantities for damages, which the defendants can ill-give you the cash for,” the indulge in wrote in her judgment.

“They instituted these complaints fully wide awake about the truth that there’s no longer any such thing as a pragmatic prospect of recuperating the damages they agree with. This motion will indubitably declare an economic burden on the defendants. Nevertheless, it appears to be like that the motion isn’t very any longer aimed at obtaining monetary, or financial damages, but somewhat vindicating an precise, or for some varied goal… The finest to freedom of expression, sturdy public debate and the ability to clutch half in public debates without difficulty is required in any democratic society. I am accordingly happy that this motion fits the DNA of a SLAPP swimsuit.”

In her judgment, Deputy Decide President Goliath acknowledged the target of a SLAPP swimsuit modified into “truly to silence those tough grand corporates on problems with public arena”.

“… the essential goal of the swimsuit is to punish or retaliate against voters who bear spoken out against the plaintiffs … These complaints are notoriously, long drawn out, and extraordinarily pricey authorized battles, which exhaust sizable quantities of time, energy, cash and resources.”

The targets of SLAPP suits were in total other folks, native other folks groups, activists or non-profit organisations who were advancing a social passion of some significance. “On occasion, exorbitant damages claims are phase of the scheme chilling public participation and sending a obvious message to activists that there are unaffordable financial dangers connected to public participation.”

It modified into evident that the scheme adopted by the plaintiffs on this case modified into that the extra vocal and annoying the activist, the larger the damages quantity claimed, the indulge in wrote. This modified into clearly the case of social worker John GI Clarke, one among the defendants who in the origin faced 19 defamation claims with a combined quantity of R5.5 million. One other nine claims were later added, bringing the total narrate against him to larger than R10 million.

In his response to the judgment, Clarke acknowledged: “The judgment is a triumph of collaboration between journalists, attorneys and social workers in enhance of other folks that are inclined and traditionally deprived, to shroud that the Bill of Rights can change into extra basic and that it would triumph over mining rights.

“What we bear now performed on this judgment is, confidently, put an end to malicious ‘lawfare’. They exclaim that in war, truth turns into the first casualty, and in lawfare, truth turns true into a hostage. What Decide Goliath has performed with this judgment is to liberate the hostage of truth.”

The Centre for Environmental Rights, the establish apart two of the defendants – attorneys Christine Reddell and Tracey Davies – were working at the time of the alleged defamation, tweeted “Enormous court docket victory for activism and free speech nowadays”.

The varied two defendants are Wild Hover community activist Mzamo Dlamini and Lutzville (West Hover) community activist Davine Cloete.

Attempts to contact the companies and Caruso for bid were unsuccessful at the time of publication.

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