EU's Anti-SLAPP Directive, 'Daphne's Law', Officially Published

The EU's anti-SLAPP directive, dubbed 'Daphne's Law', is now official in Malta, marking a significant step in protecting press freedom and public participation across the EU. The law aims to prevent harassment and intimidation of journalists and activists.

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EU's Anti-SLAPP Directive, 'Daphne's Law', Officially Published

EU's Anti-SLAPP Directive, 'Daphne's Law', Officially Published

The European Union's anti-SLAPP directive, dubbed 'Daphne's Law', has been officially published in the Official Gazette, six years and six months after the assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The directive, adopted by the European Parliament on February 27, 2023, sets minimum standards for protecting journalists, activists, academics, and other public watchdogs against abusive litigation across the EU.

Daphne's Law was inspired by the challenges faced by Caruana Galizia, who had 48 abusive lawsuits pending against her at the time of her murder in October 2017. The Maltese government had proposed its own anti-SLAPP legislation, but it was criticized as weak and ineffective compared to the EU directive.

Under the new rules, defendants will be able to apply for the early dismissal of unfounded claims, and SLAPP initiators will have to sufficiently prove their case is sound. Courts will also be able to impose dissuasive penalties on claimants, who are often represented by lobby groups, corporations, or politicians seeking to silence critics.

Why this matters: The enactment of Daphne's Law marks a significant step in protecting press freedom and the right to public participation across the European Union. The directive aims to prevent the harassment and intimidation of journalists and activists, ensuring they can continue their vital work without fear of legal repercussions.

Malta now has 24 months to transpose the provisions of the directive into national legislation. The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, which has been at the forefront of the campaign for anti-SLAPP measures, emphasized that the legislation must be accompanied by complementary measures, including the training of the judiciary and legal professionals, to ensure a robust anti-SLAPP framework.

The Foundation also recalled Malta's previous pledge to be the first EU country to introduce anti-SLAPP legislation, expressing hope that the government will implement Daphne's Law without compromising its spirit and standards. As Matthew Caruana Galizia, Daphne's son and director of the Foundation, stated, "The EU has set the standard. Now it is up to member states to meet or exceed that standard in their national legislation."

Key Takeaways

  • EU's anti-SLAPP directive, 'Daphne's Law', officially published in Malta
  • Directive sets minimum standards to protect journalists, activists, academics
  • Defendants can seek early dismissal of unfounded claims, SLAPP initiators must prove case
  • Malta has 24 months to transpose directive into national legislation
  • Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation calls for robust implementation of the law