Anti-SLAPP Research Hub

Anti-SLAPP Research Hub

The Anti-SLAPP Research Hub is a collective of academics, lawyers, journalists, and public policy experts committed to combatting strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP). The Hub brings together expertise across a range of legal disciplines, including human rights law, freedom of information, privacy and data protection, private international law, EU law, dispute resolution, and substantive defamation law.

The Anti-SLAPP Research Hub was established in 2022 to strengthen the University of Aberdeen’s long-term commitment to furthering freedom of expression and the rule of law. The School of Law has been at the forefront of efforts to combat SLAPPs in Europe since 2017. Following the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese investigative journalist who had been subject to numerous international SLAPPs, scholars in Aberdeen embarked on multiple research projects to support freedom of expression in Europe. They provided advice to the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE), the European Parliament and the European Commission, as well as co-authoring a Model Law which provided the basis for discussions concerning the EU’s draft Anti-SLAPP Directive. Training to lawyers across Europe on Anti-SLAPPs law has also been provided by the Hub through the PATFOX program

At home in Scotland, the Anti-SLAPP Research Hub has provided research to support advocacy for legislative reform in Scotland, as summarised in a submission to the Scottish Parliament The Hub also played a central role at the inaugural Scottish Anti-SLAPP Summit organised by Index on Censorship, the University of Glasgow and Justice for Journalists Foundation.

At an international level, the Anti-SLAPP Research Hub also provided expert evidence at the UN’s expert seminar on legal and economic threats to the safety of journalists (2023) and consulted with the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (2024).

Professor Justin Borg-Barthet  

Convener

European Union Law and Private International Law


Dr Erin Ferguson  

Deputy Convener

Freedom of Information 


Dr Eliza Bechtold   

Public Engagement Officer

Freedom of Expression


Dr Francesca Farrington  

Deputy Convener and Public Engagement Officer

Transnational Law


Dr Michiel Poesen  

Publications Officer

European Union Law and Private International Law


Magdalena Zabrocka (PhD Candidate)  

Events Officer

European Union Law and Public International Law


Professor Greg Gordon  

Energy Law and Private Law

 


Dr Gloria Alvarez       

International Dispute Resolution, Energy and Investment Law


Dr Rossana Ducato  

Privacy, IT and Intellectual Property Law


Dr Claudio Lombardi 

Competition Law, Law and Economics, and Comparative Law


Nik Williams

Affiliated Member

Policy and Campaigns Officer at Index on Censorship


Susan Coughtrie

Affiliated Member

Director of The Foreign Policy Centre

Co-Chair of The UK Anti-SLAPP Coalition


Graeme Johnston

Affiliated Member

Former Dispute Resolution Partner

CEO of Juralio Ltd.


Dr Linda Ravo

Affiliated Member

Senior Advocacy Consultant at Liberties


Nula Frei

Affiliate Member

Senior Researcher, University of Fribourg


Prof Irene Couzigou

Disinformation Law, Public International Law

 


Charlie Holt

Campaigns lawyer for Greenpeace International

European Lead for CliDef

 


Flutura Kusari

Affiliated Member

Senior Legal Advisor

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom

 


Benedetta Lobina

Affiliated Member

PhD Candidate, University College Dublin

 


Dalia Nasreddin

Affiliated Member

UK Campaigns Manager

English PEN

 


 

Hub Activity

Projects and Consultations

Survey on Legal Actions, Legal Threats, and SLAPPs Against Civil Society and Public Watchdogs (ongoing)

Principal investigator: Dr Francesca Farrington

Co-investigators: Prof. Justin Borg-Barthet (School of Law, University of Aberdeen) and Nik Sunil Williams (Index on Censorship)

More information: CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS: Survey on SLAPPs in Scotland | News | School of Law | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk)

Judicial Training on Anti-SLAPP Law for the CEELI Institute (February 2024) CEELI-Institute_Countering-SLAPP-Cases-in-the-CEE-Region_February-2024.pdf (pak.hr)

“Report on the implications of strategic lawsuits against public participation for guarantees under international law for the exercise of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly” Prepared at the request of the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (January 2024)

Study on “Overview of Open SLAPP Cases in 2022 and 2023” and presentation of the study to LIBE Committee of the European Parliament IP/C/LIBE/IC/2023-051 (November 2023).

Judicial Training with PATFOX: The Hub was involved in training lawyers across Europe on Anti-SLAPP law and developed the PATFox Anti-SLAPP Curriculum for Lawyers in the European Union. The project was led by Hub-members Prof. Justin Borg-Barthet and Dr Erin Ferguson. The Curriculum and further details can be found at:https://www.antislapp.eu/about

Study on “The Use of SLAPPs to Silence Journalists, NGOs and Civil Society” and presentation of the study to the JURI Committee of the European Parliament IP/C/JURI/IC/2021-048 (July 2021).

Drafting of Model EU Anti-SLAPP Directive on behalf of the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (2020) https://www.liberties.eu/f/zkecf9

 

Publications

Borg-Barthet, J. and Farrington F. “The EU’s Anti-SLAPP Directive: A Partial Victory for the Rule of Law in Europe” German Law Journal (forthcoming 2024).

Farrington, F and Zabrocka, M. “Punishment by Process: The Development of Anti-SLAPP Legislation in the European Union” ERA Forum 2023 https://doi.org/10.1007/s12027-023-00774-5

Borg-Barthet, J. and Farrington, F. “Open SLAPP Cases in 2022 and 2023: The Incidence of SLAPPs, and Regulatory Responses in the European Union” PE 756.468 (European Parliament, November 2023)  https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2023/756468/IPOL_STU(2023)756468_EN.pdf

Ferguson, E. Barber, A. Crilly, C. Farrington, F and Borg-Barthet, J. “Briefing Note: Workshop on Developing a Model Anti-SLAPP Law for Scotland” (Anti-SLAPP Research Hub, University of Aberdeen, 2023) https://aura.abdn.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/2164/21360/Anti_SLAPP_Workshop_Briefing_Note_2023.pdf;jsessionid=1D7CF25C21F9906A6CFE8484D9A63476?sequence=1

Farrington, F. and Borg-Barthet, J. “PE1975/N: Anti-SLAPP Research Hub, University of Aberdeen Submission” (March 2023)

https://www.parliament.scot/-/media/files/committees/citizen-participation-and-public-petitions-committee/correspondence/2022/pe1975/pe1975_n.pdf

Farrington, F. and Borg-Barthet, J. “University of Aberdeen submission of 14 December 2022 PE1975/D: Reform the Law Relating to Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs)” (December, 2022) https://www.parliament.scot/-/media/files/committees/citizen-participation-and-public-petitions-committee/correspondence/2022/pe1975/pe1975_d.pdf

Poesen, M. “Civil Litigation Against Third-Country Defendants in the EU: Effective Access to Justice as a Rationale for European Harmonization of the Law of International Jurisdiction” (2022) 59 Common Market Law Review 1597

Borg-Barthet, J. “‘Daphne’s Law’: The European Commission introduces an Anti-SLAPP Initiative” (EU Law Analysis, 2022) http://eulawanalysis.blogspot.com/2022/04/daphnes-law-european-commission.html?m=1

Borg-Barthet J. “The Legal Background of SLAPP Cases in Malta” in Bayer J et al eds. Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) in the European Union (EU-CITIZEN Network, 2021) https://commission.europa.eu/system/files/2022-04/slapp_comparative_study_0.pdf

Borg-Barthet J., Lobina B, and Zabrocka, M.E. “The Use of SLAPPs to Silence Journalists, NGOs, and Civil Society” (European Parliament, June 2021) https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2021/694782/IPOL_STU(2021)694782_EN.pdf

Borg-Barthet J., ‘The Brussels Ia Regulation as an Instrument for the Undermining of Press Freedoms and the Rule of Law: an Urgent Call for Reform’ (University of Aberdeen School of Law Working Paper Series 2020) https://www.abdn.ac.uk/law/documents/007.20%20-%20Borg-Barthet.pdf

Ravo, L.M., Borg-Barthet, J., Kramer, X.E. “Protecting Public Watchdogs Across the EU: A Proposal for and EU Anti-SLAPP Law (European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, 2020).

https://www.liberties.eu/f/zkecf9

Borg-Barthet, J. “Advice Concerning the Introduction of Anti-SLAPP legislation to Protect Freedom of Expression in the European Union” (May 2020). Report commissioned by Article 19, Committee to Protect Journalists, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Reporters Without Borders, and PEN International. https://aura.abdn.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/2164/16449/2020.05.19_Anti_SLAPP_advice.pdf;jsessionid=47C7623B67EFC2299E9D46E7F226C6CF?sequence=1

 

Blogs

Farrington, F. and Zabrocka, M. “The Anti-SLAPP Research Hub Reflects on Media Freedom on the 30th Anniversary of World Press Freedom Day” (May 2023, University of Aberdeen) https://www.abdn.ac.uk/law/blog/the-antislapp-research-hub-reflects-on-media-freedom-on-the-30th-anniversary-of-world-press-freedom-day/

Farrington, F. and Zabrocka, M. “The Anti-SLAPP Research Hub Calls for Global Cooperation in Tackling SLAPPs at the UN’s Expert Seminar on the Safety of Journalists” (May 2023, University of Aberdeen) https://theconversation.com/freedom-of-speech-scotland-could-derail-europes-drive-to-stop-rich-people-silencing-journalists-199617

In the Media

Ferguson, E. and Borg-Barthet, J. “Anti-SLAPP legislation in the UK: where are we now? (Solicitors Journal, April 2024) https://www.solicitorsjournal.com/sjarticle/antislapp-legislation-in-the-uk-where-are-we-now

Melin, A. and Miller, H. “A Tale of Deforestation, Death and Defamation in Borneo’s Jungle May End in a Swiss Court” (Bloomberg, February 2024) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-02-29/a-fight-over-deforestation-in-malaysia-ends-up-in-swiss-court?srnd=undefined&leadSource=uverify%20wall

“European Parliament Publishes Study on SLAPPs by Anti-SLAPP Research Hub” (University of Aberdeen, November 2023) https://www.abdn.ac.uk/news/22553/

Farrington, F. and Borg-Barthet, J. “SLAPPs: Inside Europe’s Struggle to Protect Journalists from Malicious Lawsuits” (The Conversation, November 2023) https://theconversation.com/slapps-inside-europes-struggle-to-protect-journalists-from-malicious-lawsuits-218632

De Benedetti, F. “Sulle querele bavaglio l’Italia ha il primato. E i governi stanno boicottando la legge Ue” (Domani, November 2023): Sulle querele bavaglio l’Italia ha il primato. E i governi stanno boicottando la legge Ue (editorialedomani.it)

SLN “Aberdeen University hosts roundtable on defending press freedom’ (Scottish Legal news, June 2023) Aberdeen University hosts roundtable on defending freedom of the press | Scottish Legal News

Farrington, F. and Borg-Barthet, J. “Freedom of Speech: Scotland Could Derail Europe’s Drive to Stop Rich People Silencing Journalists" (The Conversation, February 2023) https://theconversation.com/freedom-of-speech-scotland-could-derail-europes-drive-to-stop-rich-people-silencing-journalists-199617

SLN, “SLAPPs: Professor Borg-Barthet gives evidence at the European Parliament” (Scottish Legal News, February 2023) SLAPPs: Professor Justin Borg-Barthet gives evidence at the European Parliament | Scottish Legal News

Leask, D. “Scotland Must Follow EU and UK to Stop the Rich Gagging Their Critics” (The Herald, January 2023) https://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/23249190.scotland-must-follow-eu-uk-stop-rich-gagging-critics/

Elliards, X. “What are SLAPPs and Why Should Scotland Take Action to End Them? (The National, January 2023) https://www.thenational.scot/news/23252134.slapps-scotland-take-action-end/?ref=twtrec

Kieran, A. “Weak SLAPPs Law Frees Rich to Silence Critics” (The Times, January 2023)  https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/weak-slapps-law-frees-rich-to-silence-critics-3jlb3b660

Thomson, M. “Our Justice System Should Be For All, Not Just the Richest” (The Times, January 2023) https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/a4ca6280-8ae3-11ed-b24e-c1aaebfbdb8d?shareToken=a07c3ae85eb4d282dbc1ba7c60d784c3

Bozic, K. “Justin Borg-Barthet o zastraševalnih strateških tožbah zoper sodelovanje javnosti: “Ne gre za zaseben, nevtralen posel, ampak za temelje naših demokracij” (Pravna Mreza, August 2022) Justin Borg-Barthet o zastraševalnih strateških tožbah zoper sodelovanje javnosti: “Ne gre za zaseben, nevtralen posel, ampak za temelje naših demokracij” - Pravna mreža za varstvo demokracije (pravna-mreza.si)

Borg-Barthet, J. “If the Government Cared About Free Speech, It Would Reform the London Libel Industry” (The Guardian, August 2021) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/aug/06/free-speech-london-libel-industry-putin-journalism

Božič, K. “Justin Borg-Barthet o zastraševalnih strateških tožbah zoper sodelovanje javnosti: ‘Ne gre za zaseben, nevtralen posel, ampak za temelje naših demokracij’” (Pravna Mreža, August 2022) https://pravna-mreza.si/justin-borg-barthet/

Rettman, A. “EU to Defend Journalists from Malicious Law Suits” (EU Observer, June 2021) https://euobserver.com/world/152049

Rosà, P. and Pierobon, C. “SLAPPs: Strategic Lawsuits Public Participation” (OBC Transeuropa, January 2020) https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/ECPMF/ECPMF-news/SLAPPs-Strategic-Lawsuits-Against-Public-Participation-198695

Staff reporter “Maltese academic appointed to European Commission Expert Group Against SLAPP” (The Shift News, April 2021) Maltese academic appointed to European Commission Expert Group Against SLAPP | The Shift News

SLN “Dr Borg-Barthet appointed to European Commission Expert Group Against SLAPP” (Scottish Legal News, April 2021) https://www.scottishlegal.com/articles/dr-borg-barthet-appointed-to-european-commission-expert-group-against-slapp

Borg, VP. “How to Cripple the Media in Malta” (Times of Malta, March 2020) https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/how-to-cripple-the-media-in-malta.775022

Demarco, J. “Weaponisation of the Law Suppressing Scrutiny of Power” (The Shift News, May 2020) https://theshiftnews.com/2020/05/21/weaponisation-of-the-law-suppressing-scrutiny-of-power/

Phillips, G. “How the Free Press Worldwide is Under Threat” (The Guardian, May 2020) https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/may/28/how-the-free-press-worldwide-is-under-threat

Agius, M. “’A European solution for SLAPP is needed’” (Newsbook, November 2019) 'A European solution for SLAPP is needed' - Newsbook

Muscat, C. “’We Were Never More Proud of Her Than on the Day She Was Murdered’” (The Shift News, March 2019) https://theshiftnews.com/2019/03/05/we-were-never-more-proud-of-her-than-on-the-day-she-was-murdered/

Taylor, A. “EU Must Intervene to Protect Journalists Against SLAPP” (The Shift News, November 2019) https://theshiftnews.com/2019/11/14/eu-must-intervene-to-protect-journalists-against-slapp/

Hudson, D. “David Casa Calls for EU Solutions to Address Harassment of Journalists” (Malta Today, November 2019) https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/national/98620/david_casa_calls_for_eu_solutions_to_address_harassment_of_journalists#.Y8F_eXbP1PZ

Allaby, E. “After Journalist’s Murder, Efforts to Combat SLAPP in Europe” (Columbia Journalism Review, April 2019) https://www.cjr.org/analysis/slapp-daphne-caruana-galizia-malta.php

Muscat, C. “We were never more proud of her than on the day she was murdered’” (The Shift news, March 2019) ‘We were never more proud of her than on the day she was murdered’ | The Shift News

Taylor, A. “Lawsuits that Cripple Journalists: Malta a Protagonist in Debate on Press Freedom” (The Shift News, March 2019) https://theshiftnews.com/2019/03/02/lawsuits-that-cripple-journalists-malta-a-protagonist-in-debate-on-press-freedom/

Garside, J. “Murdered Maltese Reporter Faced Threat of Libel Action in UK” (The Guardian, June 2018) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/01/murdered-maltese-reporter-faced-threat-of-libel-action-in-uk

 

Events

 

Workshop: Reform of EU Law on Defamation, University of Aberdeen 2019 https://www.abdn.ac.uk/law/research/centre-for-private-international-law/workshop-reform-of-eu-law-on-defamation--742.php

Guest Lecture at Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Gdansk: Magdalena Zabrocka on SLAPPs, the Rule of Law, and Fundamental Rights - a Litigation Strategy or an Abuse of the Legal System? 

UN Human Rights Council, Expert Seminar on Legal and Economic Threats to the Safety of Journalists (April 2023): Francesca Farrington (Panellist) and Magdalena Zabrocka (Representative) https://media.un.org/en/asset/k18/k18khr9kok

Webinar on Whistleblowers’ Protection in Europe, Academy of European Law: Francesca Farrington on “The EU Anti-SLAPP Proposal: The Way to Protect Public Watchdogs” (27 April 2023)

https://www.era.int/cgi-bin/cms?_SID=b1bb397815787de4a1b80105aee407c016a988d500971484352096&_sprache=en&_bereich=artikel&_aktion=detail&idartikel=131772  

Invited Lecture: University of Aberdeen Lawyers without Borders annual Human Rights Conference: Erin Ferguson on ‘In the Public Interest: Legal Responses to SLAPPs’ (25 April 2023).

Workshop: Developing a Model Anti-SLAPP Law for Scotland https://aura.abdn.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/2164/21360/Anti_SLAPP_Workshop_Briefing_Note_2023.pdf;jsessionid=1D7CF25C21F9906A6CFE8484D9A63476?sequence=1

FoISA@21: Celebrating Successes and Delivering Reform organised by Campaign for Freedom of Information Scotland: Dr Erin Ferguson on ‘Legal Reform – Different Routes to Deliver Transparency, Accountability and Scrutiny’ (28 September 2023)

Prof. Borg-Barthet and Dr Francesca Farrington presented their report on “Open SLAPP Cases in 2022 and 2023: The Incidence of SLAPPs, and Regulatory Responses in the European Union” to the European Parliament in November 2023. See media post: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/news/22553/

Scottish Anti-SLAPP Summit organised by Index on Censorship, the University of Glasgow and Justice for Journalists Foundation (February 2024): Dr Francesca Farrington on “Imagining the Unimaginable: What would a Scottish Anti-SLAPP Law Look Like?