Last time, we began looking at the topic of anti-SLAPP protections, which are aimed at protecting those who seek to exercise their free speech rights or to protect the public interest from legal claims intended to discourage them from their efforts. As we noted, Georgia has an anti-SLAPP law which requires those filing claims based upon statements made before, or to be reviewed by, a government body to file written verification that the claim is made in good faith.
Failure to verify such a claim allows the claim to be struck down if it is not verified after notice. Claims which are verified even though they are not made in good faith can result in sanctions against parties who acted improperly, as well as dismissal of the case, and an award of reasonable expenses and attorneys’ fees.
Several points about Georgia’s anti-SLAPP law:
- It applies to any written or oral statement, writing or petition made in a public place or in a public forum concerning an issue of public interest or concern
- An award of attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party is mandatory
- A denial of an anti-SLAPP motion may be immediately appealed
- The statute applies in federal court
The latter point is a noteworthy because of the fact that there can be complications in the handling of anti-SLAPP lawsuits based on which legal standard is applied. We’ll say more about this in our next post, and the importance of experienced legal counsel in handling anti-SLAPP litigation.