Providing legal advice, information, and advocacy to those fighting climate change.
This case study concerns an organization involved in logging and wood chipping, which initiated action against 20 individuals and Senator Bob Brown for over AU$7.8 million. It was seen as one of the first SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) cases against protestors in Australia. Lander & Rogers’ client was a photographer at the protest.
Gunns was the largest woodchip operation in the Southern Hemisphere and had a forestry enterprise located in Tasmania that expanded over 900 square kilometers of plantations.
In 2003, a small group of protestors gathered at Baker’s Creek in Lucaston to oppose the logging of the old-growth forest. The protest was peaceful but caused some obstruction and property damage, and a two-day disruption. The protestors also attempted to prevent the logging through the government with an offer to buy the private land, however, that was unsuccessful.
Gunns initiated proceedings against the protesters on the basis that they interfered with contractual relations, caused injury to Gunns’ trade and business, and caused nuisance and trespass to land. Over the course of the proceedings, many of the original 20 protestors settled. Gunns put maximum pressure on the defendants throughout the legal process and without pro bono legal assistance and lawyers working collaboratively it is unlikely that the defendants would have been able to defend the case.
Lander & Rogers began representing one of the clients in 2008. Leading up to trial, the firm’s client was not ready to settle and Gunns was receiving pressure from investors. It was not until three days before trial that a settlement was reached. The client was severely impacted by the drawn-out and aggressive litigation. It was a great example of how lawyers can together support environmental protestors who would otherwise not be able to withstand such litigation.