BILL M 212 — 2008


WHEREAS the right to participate freely in the process of government, public discourse and debate is fundamental to the functioning of our democratic system;

WHEREAS this right is seriously undermined by civil actions brought primarily to chill citizen participation or to otherwise harass or intimidate citizens and citizens' organizations;

WHEREAS there is a need to reform the legal system to discourage the bringing of such action;

AND WHEREAS this need is widely supported by environmental, social justice and progressive organizations;

HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, enacts as follows:


1 For the purposes of this Act,

"action" means any legal action for damages brought in a court of law, and includes a counter-claim;

"applicant" means a person who, pursuant to this Act, brings a motion to dismiss an action;

"government" includes all federal, provincial and municipal government departments, agencies and officials;

"person" includes any non-profit organization, trade union or group, whether or not incorporated, and any director or member of any organization that is subjected to an action to which this Act applies;

"respondent" means a person who is required to respond to a motion to dismiss under this Act.

Right of participation

2 Every person has the right to participate freely in the process of government including the right to petition and communicate with government, and to freedom of speech, association and demonstration on matters of public policy.

Prohibition of action

3 Subject to sections 6 and 9, no action shall be brought or maintained against a person for any act arising from or in furtherance of rights protected by this Act.

Motion to dismiss

4 A person who alleges that an action or claim has been brought for the purpose of limiting a person's enjoyment or use of the right in section 2 may, at any time, bring a motion to dismiss the action.

5 (1) A motion to dismiss under section 4

(a) may be brought on seven days notice;

(b) must be given priority by the Court;

(c) may be decided on the basis of pleadings or affidavit evidence; and

(d) may be decided without discovery.

(2) Where a motion to dismiss is brought prior to or during discovery, discovery must be suspended, pending the motion.

6 (1) A motion must be granted where the applicant establishes that the action was brought in order to deprive a person of the free and proper use and enjoyment of the rights accorded in section 2.

(2) A motion to dismiss must not be granted where the Court finds that

(a) the action is not one to which this Act applies;

(b) the motion of the applicant lacks any reasonable basis in fact; or

(c) the applicant's primary purpose is to harass the respondent, or to pursue some other private purpose other than the free exercise of the rights protected by this Act.

7 (1) The Court must award an applicant who prevails in a motion under this Act

(a) fees and costs on a special basis; or

(b) punitive costs, as deemed appropriate by the Court, and costs.

(2) The Court may hear evidence, order discovery, or make any other such consequential orders as the Court may deem just, in order to meet the policy objectives of this Act.

(3) Where the Court finds that

(a) the motion of the applicant lacks any reasonable basis in fact; and

(b) the applicant's primary purpose was to harass the respondent, or pursue some other private purpose other than the free exercise of the rights protected by this Act,

the Court must not grant the motion to dismiss.


8 (1) A person may petition the Court for damages in conjunction with a motion under this Act.

(2) If a motion is granted and the court is satisfied that the Plaintiff filed the cause of action, claim, or counterclaim for the purposes of

(a) harassment,

(b) inhibiting the person's exercise of protected rights under this Act, or

(c) otherwise injuring the person,

the Court must award the person with actual damages, and may award punitive damages.

Exclusion for deliberate acts

9 This Act does not apply to an action against a person for the deliberate destruction of property or the deliberate infliction of physical injury to other persons.