Libel Tourism & Free Expression

The Fight Against Libel Tourism

The Libel Tourist

The Libel Tourist video was published in English and in Arabic (See Arabic version

Dr. Ehrenfeld discusses her experience with libel tourism and free speech rights advocacy. This documentary was directed by Jared Lapidus and produced by MPI, before the passage of the Libel Terrorism Protection Act (“Rachel’s Law“) in New York State in 2008, drafted and enacted at Dr. Ehrenfeld’s initiative. Similar laws have since passed in California, Tennessee, Utah, Florida, Illinois, and other states. A federal version of Rachel’s Law was passed unanimously by Congress and enacted in August 2010.

The American Center for Democracy is a leading advocate in the fight for the strong protections for freedom of speech required to maintain a robust and transparent democratic government and to ensure diligent investigation on matters of public interest. To this end, the ACD works closely with state and federal legislatures to ensure that U.S. constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression remain whole and uninfringed; its initiatives have resulted in the passage of multiple state laws,  first the Libel Terrorism Protection Act (“Rachel’s Law”) in New York State in 2008,  as well as a federal law, the SPEECH Act of 2010 (Securing and Protecting our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage).

Led by its director, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, ACD initiated this legislation to protect American writers and publishers from libel tourism – a phenomenon in which foreign libel plaintiffs sue, or threaten to sue, under claimant-friendly foreign libel laws to suppress legitimate scholarship and research.

The SPEECH Act, its predecessor bills, and anti-libel tourism state legislation, including New York’s Rachel’s Law, named after Dr. Ehrenfeld, are posted on our Legislation page. We have also posted letters and articles of Support for the Legislation from some of our most dedicated partners in this effort. The ACD efforts have also had an international impact: its U.S. legislative successes have spurred free speech reform movements in Europe, and have often been cited as the impetus for ongoing efforts to reform libel law in the United Kingdom.

Information on Dr. Ehrenfeld’s personal battle with libel tourism is found on the litigation page.

Please read various media reports about the ACD relating to free speech and libel tourism, as well as articles authored by the ACD.

ACD First Amendment work is also focused on curtailing foreign influence on American educational and religious institutions. To learn more about this initiative, please contact us.

Afterwards –

February 19, 2018
David Marchant,
Owner & Editor
I just thought I’d give you an update on my experiences with foreign libel actions.
Since The SPEECH Act was passed, I and/or my firm, OffshoreAlert, have been sued for defamation twice overseas (both at the High Court in London). In each case, the plaintiff had perpetrated a massive investment fraud that OffshoreAlert had exposed. The victims lived in many countries and included many pensioners.
The first action was brought by British attorney Timothy Schools, who ran a Cayman Islands-investment scam known as Axiom Legal Financing Fund that swindled investors out of approximately $175 million; the second one by British firm Privilege Wealth Plc, which swindled investors out of approximately $45 million.
Before The SPEECH Act, I would have defended each of these actions at huge cost (minimum of tens of thousands of dollars for a case that doesn’t go anywhere and several hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly, more than $1 million, for a case that progresses to trial and an appeal).
After The SPEECH Act, I decided not to defend either action and, therefore, did not spend one cent in legal fees.
Both plaintiffs obtained default judgments. Despite this, OffshoreAlert continued to hold well-publicized conferences in London and I continued to attend and speak at them. It was widely-known where I would be at a given time on a given date. Nothing happened to me.
The plaintiff in the first case was later struck off as an attorney in the UK as a result of OffshoreAlert’s investigation (as were seven other British attorneys), his assets frozen and his group went into liquidation.
The plaintiff in the second case has just gone bust and, in a letter to its investors, admitted it was due to massive fraud.
The SPEECH Act has made my life a lot easier and, as a result, OffshoreAlert can go about its business of professionally and responsibly exposing serious financial crime while it’s in progress, thereby protecting investors around the world.
So … thanks!
Owner & Editor

123 S.E 3rd Avenue, # 173
Miami, FL 33131, USA.

In the UK, Queen Elizabeth II announced a libel law reform in her annual Speech to British Parliament on May 9, 2012,
Rachel Ehrenfeld of ACD/EWI issued the following statement:

“An American citizen I set out in New York to defend myself from Britain’s draconian and antiquated libel tourism law and succeeded. New York State was first to pass the Anti-Libel Terrorism Law” (AKA “Rachel’s Law”) in May 2008. The Federal SPEECH Act, protecting all Americans writers and publishers in print and on the internet followed in August 2010. I am delighted that my actions in the US spurred the free speech reform movement in the UK to fight for and hopefully soon achieve a long overdue reform of their libel law. One only hopes that the British Bar Council will not succeed in watering down the proposed Defamation Bill.”

Stopping SLAPP Suits

A Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP suit, is a lawsuit brought in United States court with the intent of suppressing legitimate free speech. Like libel tourism, SLAPP suits are meant to censor and harass critics into silence, subjecting them to protracted, expensive legal battles and ruining their reputations. The effects of SLAPP suit may extend well beyond the individual who is sued, intimidating others in his or her field and discouraging speaking and publication on matters of public interest.

Working with like-minded partners and building on the political and organizational relationships formed in its successful two-year effort to pass the SPEECH Act, ACD is helping formulate legislation that will deter SLAPP suits. We encourage you to contact us to learn more about joining our efforts, and to monitor our progress by checking back often.

To learn more about SLAPP suits, please click here.

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