Brandon Schaufele, ‘Chilling Effects from Anti-SLAPP Laws’

Anti-SLAPP legislation has proliferated across the US and Canada. SLAPPs are ‘strategic lawsuits against public participation’, private claims whose objective is to chill opposition by limiting parties’ ability to participate in public debate. SLAPPs involve a complementarity between a private harm, typically the tort of defamation, and an extra-judicial project, often a real estate development. This paper incorporates SLAPPs into a standard model of frivolous litigation, demonstrating that the economic implications of SLAPPs are narrower than frequently portrayed. The paper then applies a staggered adoption difference-in-differences research design to empirically estimate the chilling effects of anti-SLAPP laws on construction investment and new home starts in Canada. Results demonstrate that anti-SLAPP laws do chill construction investment by roughly $80 million per month within Canadian cities. New starts of single family homes also decline by 120 per month relative to a counterfactual scenario where anti-SLAPP laws do not exist.

Schaufele, Brandon, Chilling Effects from Anti-SLAPP Laws (March 7, 2022).

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