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Understanding California’s anti-SLAPP law

On Behalf of | Aug 24, 2023 | Anti-SLAPP, blog

In the world of legal cases, SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” Typically, these are lawsuits that individuals or companies file with the intent of silencing or intimidating critics, rather than addressing legitimate legal grievances. California, recognizing the potential harm such lawsuits can bring, especially to freedom of speech, instituted an anti-SLAPP law.

The beauty of California’s anti-SLAPP law lies in its intention to uphold the right to free speech, especially when it concerns issues of public interest. But what does this mean for you, and how can you navigate the complexities of this legislation?

The basics of the anti-SLAPP law

California’s anti-SLAPP law allows individuals to have a lawsuit dismissed quickly if they can show that the suit stems from them using their constitutional rights to free speech in connection with public issues. For instance, if you write a review about a public figure or a company and find yourself facing a lawsuit alleging defamation, the anti-SLAPP law can come to your rescue. You can petition the court, highlighting that your actions were in line with your free speech rights concerning a matter of public interest.

If you successfully argue that the lawsuit against you is a SLAPP, the burden shifts to the party who filed the lawsuit. They must demonstrate a probability of winning the case. If they fail to do so, the court dismisses the lawsuit and the party that filed the SLAPP may have to pay your legal fees.

How this law benefits you

This anti-SLAPP legislation acts as a protective shield for individuals in California. It ensures that you can engage in discussions, voice your opinions or participate in matters of public interest without fear of retribution in the form of a baseless lawsuit. This law levels the playing field, especially when large companies or influential individuals try to intimidate or silence smaller entities or individuals.

California’s anti-SLAPP law is a testament to the state’s commitment to uphold and preserve the right to free speech. By understanding the essence of this law, you can confidently engage in public discourse without the undue fear of legal backlash.