Brussels showcase for pioneering frontline action against SLAPPs

  • 28 February 2023, 9am-1pm CET, European Parliament Room SPAAK C750 and online (; in-person registration still possible before 20 February
  • Anti-SLAPP Legal Training event at the European Parliament will hear first insights from EU co-funded PATFox project, which has been devising Europe’s first Anti-SLAPP curriculum and organising training for lawyers across 11 EU member states
  • PATFox workshops are running through to the end of 2023 in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain
  • Curriculum materials and videos now freely available to all on the project website –

One year ago, eleven organisations came together from across the European Union in an effort to equip legal professionals with the tools to defend their clients against abusive litigation intended to silence them and chill the speech of others. The EU co-funded PATFox (Pioneering Anti-SLAPP Training for Freedom of Expression) project brings a much-needed coherence to frontline SLAPP defence efforts across the Union.

Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) have been recognised as one of the key challenges for freedom of expression across Europe, with a draft Anti-SLAPP Directive now working its way through the European legislative process.

Legislation is only part of the story. The European Commission’s package to tackle abusive lawsuits against journalists and human rights defenders, acknowledges that training for legal professionals is “crucial.” The PATFox project has been designed to address exactly this need.

At the half-way mark of the project, PATFox is bringing some of Europe’s foremost experts, practicing lawyers, legal academics and SLAPP targets to take stock of the current state of readiness to resist abusive lawsuits across the Union.

Hosted by LIBE Committee Chair Juan Fernando L?pez Aguilar MEP, the European Parliament event will hear from PATFox trainer Vanja Juric and Professor Justin Borg-Barthet of the University of Aberdeen’s Anti-SLAPP Hub – both members of the European Commission Expert Group on SLAPPs – together with Bettina Behrend of Rettet den Regenwald, e.V, which has been a SLAPP target.

That initial discussion will be followed by a series of roundtables bringing together those directly involved in training across the 11 project countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain – which includes some of those with the EU’s most acute SLAPP problems.

Naomi Colvin at Blueprint for Free Speech, who are co-managing the project, said:

“Effective legal representation is an indispensable part of the fight back against the abusive law suits that have been designed to intimidate journalists, human rights defenders and other public watchdogs across the European Union and beyond. Our experience running workshops in 11 EU countries shows that there’s a significant untapped demand for the training we’re offering.”

Alessia Schiavon from FIBGAR, coordinator of the project, said:

“There are many important differences in the way particular EU member states are experiencing the threat of SLAPPs, but building frontline resilience on the ground is absolutely key for everyone.”

The PATFox anti-SLAPP curriculum combines materials on European human rights law and international legal principles developed by Professor Justin Borg-Barthet, supplemented with coverage of local examples, procedural rules and case law. Video and written materials are now available to all at the project website:

A second phase of training workshops will be held through 2023. Scheduled training dates will be published on an online calendar on the project website, at

Qualified lawyers interested in participating in training events can express interest by contacting the project at or their local project partner organisation.

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