The Council of Europe Building
The Council of Europe Building in Strasbourg.

The Committee is tasked with drafting a Recommendation on SLAPPs to be adopted by the Council by the end of 2023, the ultimate purpose of which is to provide a policy framework and legal proposals that Member State governments (including the UK government) can implement at a national level.

Pete’s ongoing work with the Committee has led to him being called to give expert evidence to a recent UK Parliament Justice Select Committee on SLAPPs, and to advising and working with the Ministry of Justice, charities, NGOs and other organisations on various reform proposals relating to this type of litigation.

It is an honour to be recognised by the Council of Europe as the UK’s independent expert on SLAPP litigation. It is a privilege to work alongside other leading experts from across Europe to develop what we hope will be a workable and impactful Recommendation that will inform the development of national policy and law, and which, ultimately, will help to protect free speech across Europe.

Dr Peter Coe

SLAPPs are considered to be deliberately vexatious cases brought by individuals or corporations to prevent the publication of information that would be in the public interest. They typically involve expensive and time-consuming litigation, or the threat of it, which is intended to intimidate defendants into silence. The UK’s legal system, where defendants need to prove that a ‘defamatory statement’ is true and costs are high, has made it a particularly attractive destination for claimants bringing SLAPP cases.

The Government has announced its intention to end the use of UK courts to evade scrutiny. It has proposed a range of measures including establishing a legal definition of SLAPPs, strengthening the ‘public interest’ defence and imposing restraint orders on repeat litigants bringing baseless claims.