Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s democracy is threatened by Adani’s ‘legal intimidation’ tactics against community groups

Adani’s ‘legal intimidation’ tactics against community groups a ‘threat to democracy’, Guardian, Ben Smee

Eminent members of legal profession, including a former supreme court judge, critical of law firm’s strategy document, 
The Adani mining company’s “legal intimidation” tactics against community groups are a “threat to democracy” and “gravely concerning”, say eminent members of the legal profession, including a former supreme court judge and an expert on corporate lawfare.The ABC reported on Tuesday that a law firm hired by Adani, AJ & Co, wrote a strategy document urging the Indian miner to “play the man” and adopt an aggressive legal posture against opponents.

The documents suggested Adani should trawl social media for evidence of bias among activists and decision makers. It recommended using the legal system to bankrupt poorly resourced opponents, silence commentators and put pressure on government……

Brian Walters, a Melbourne-based QC and human rights advocate, is an expert on so-called Slapp suits – strategic lawsuits against public participation. He wrote the 2005 book Slapping on the Writs and said using the law to silence community groups undermined the democratic process.

“It is a fundamental feature of free speech that people should be allowed to comment on the way that corporations and other powerful people are using their power,” Walters said.

“What appears to have happened here is a large corporation has agreed to use, or has tried to use, threats of legal intimidation to silence the public in speaking out about its proposals.

“When corporations attempt to use the law not to achieve a legitimate forensic outcome but to intimidate those who criticise them, they are abusing the process of the law. They are bringing the law and indeed their own corporation into disrepute.”…..

The Environmental Defender’s Office Queensland said on Tuesday it had received a legal letter sent on behalf of Adani on 12 September “clearly designed to intimidate us”.

“Instead of spending its legal energy on complying with Queensland’s laws, Adani is hiring lawyers to silence its critics in a well-funded campaign of intimidation, EDO Queensland’s chief executive and solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg said.

A faction of Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners, who have been fighting a long-running native title case against Adani in relation to the Carmichael mine, said they had been targeted by the “malicious” tactics……

February 21, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal

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