Slapp Suits: An Emerging Obstacle to Public Interest Environmental Litigation in South Africa

South African Journal on Human Rights, Vol. 27, p. 82, 2011

25 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2011 Last revised: 3 Oct 2011

Tumai Murombo

University of the Witwatersrand - School of Law

Date Written: June 6, 2011

Abstract

The Constitutional project of South Africa depends on public interest litigation to ensure that rights in the Constitution are protected and fulfilled. The dialectic of promoting socio-economic rights while concomitantly promoting other constitutional interests remains a big challenge. Case in point is the protection of environmental rights, which poses a greater challenge given the tension between development and environmental protection. Among other strategies, the environment can most effectively be protected through public interest environmental litigation supported by democratic participation in environmental decision-making. However, emerging threats to such litigation include strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP suits). SLAPPs were first identified in the USA. In the USA, particularly in California, targeted legislation has been used to deal with SLAPP suits and South Africa may have to consider taking this route to forestall this threat to public interest litigation. In the absence of such targeted legislation, however, courts should use existing procedural and substantive legal tools to protect litigants faced with SLAPP suits.

Keywords: SLAPP suits, public interest litigation, South Africa, environmental law, constitutional law, public participation

JEL Classification: K23, K32, K40, K41, K42

Suggested Citation

Murombo, Tumai, Slapp Suits: An Emerging Obstacle to Public Interest Environmental Litigation in South Africa (June 6, 2011). South African Journal on Human Rights, Vol. 27, p. 82, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1858642

Tumai Murombo (Contact Author)

University of the Witwatersrand - School of Law ( email )

University of the Witwatersrand
Private Bag X3, WITS
Johannesburg, 2050
South Africa
0027117178489 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.wits.ac.za/staff/academic-a-z-listing/m/tumaimurombowitsacza/

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