Two British Columbia cases show again why we need laws to
prevent Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation
A Mr. Scory owns land in the agricultural land reserve in
Langley; he applied to the Township to deposit 750,000 cubic metres
of fill on his land, allegedly for agricultural purposes. His
neighbours, Sian Krannitz, Jack DeWitte and the Glen Valley
Watershed Society, vigorously opposed his proposal, and he sued them.
Mr. Scory alleged that the defendants engaged in a public
campaign to oppose his application, including publishing false and
malicious statements about his proposal. He sued them in tort,
alleging 6 causes of action: defamation, injurious falsehood,
conspiracy to injure, unlawful interference with economic
relations, trespass and nuisance. Ms. Krannitz and the GVWS filed
an application for summary dismissal.
The court granted the application, with costs to the
respondents, finding that Mr. Scory's claims were baseless
– he failed to prove the elements required for any of the
torts. The court stated that Mr. Scory greatly exaggerated the
defendants' statements and fabricated other allegations against
In a related case (2011 BCSC 936, July 12, 2011, link http://www.canlii.org/en/bc/bcsc/doc/2011/2011bcsc936/2011bcsc936.html
) the Court granted defendant DeWitte an order dismissing the claim
against him. Mr. Scory had also sued him in tort based on
statements allegedly made by Mr. DeWitte at a council meeting. The
Court agreed with Mr. DeWitte that the plaintiff's claim had no
merit and was intended to intimidate Mr. DeWitte and others with
similar interests from participating in public debate. As such, the
claim was a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP)
deserving censure: Mr. DeWitte was awarded his costs as special
Note: Successful defendants in Canada typically recover
a third to a half of their legal costs from the other side. In BC,
"special costs"are awarded where the opposing party has
engaged in some sort of reprehensible conduct and deserves more
than a SLAPP on the wrist (pun intended). This typically represents
around 90% of a litigant's actual costs. Thus, the totally
successful, innocent defendant can end up significantly out of
pocket, even if they get (and can collect) special costs. And
meanwhile they have had to devote countless hours to a groundless
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