SLAPP Suits: MRC/MSR challenges against environmental activists
MRC/MSR issued summons or filed SLAPP suits in four separate matters against:
- John Clarke;
- Mzamo Dlamini and Cormac Cullinan;
- Christine Reddell, Tracey Davies and Davine Cloete; and
- Tossie Beukes and Riaan Oberholzer.
The fourth matter involving Tossie and Riaan was withdrawn in early 2019.
In 2019, in the matter involving Tracey, Christine and Davine, the first of the matters to proceed, the Court disallowed access to documents which were sought for their defence. Subsequent to the Court’s finding, the defendants, in order to advance the matter expeditiously, chose not to appeal the matter, but to instead to file a special plea highlighting the vexatious nature of the proceedings. Defendants in the other two matters also filed substantially identical special pleas and MRC has taken exception to all three special pleas.
A joint virtual hearing to determine the issues raised in the exceptions was set down for 9 and 10 June 2020.
The Centre for Applied Legal Studies and the University of Cape Town were admitted as amicus curiae in this defamation suit and raised issues related to freedom of expression, including academic freedom.
A recording of Day 1 of the virtual hearing on 9 June 2020 is available here:
All the papers for the matter, including heads of argument for the parties and amici, may be accessed below.