The Delaware anti-SLAPP law is relatively narrow. It protects individuals from legal actions involving public petition and participation. Such actions are narrowly defined as those brought by a “public applicant or permittee” in response to the defendant’s statements or other efforts “to report on, rule on, challenge or oppose” that application or permission. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10 § 8136 (2018). A “public applicant or permittee” is defined as “any person who has applied for or obtained a permit, zoning change, lease, license, certificate or other entitlement for use or permission to act from any government body, or any person with an interest, connection or affiliation with such person that is materially related to such application or permission.”
A defendant faced with a SLAPP suit may move to dismiss the complaint or for summary judgment. § 8137. The court must grant either motion if the defendant shows that the action involves public petition and participation, unless the plaintiff demonstrates that the claim has a “substantial basis” in law (and in fact, for summary judgment motions) or a “substantial argument” for a modification of existing law. Id. To recover damages, the plaintiff must also establish by “clear and convincing evidence” that the communication was made with knowledge of or reckless disregard for its falsity if such truth or falsity is material to the underlying claim. § 8136. The law does not specify what evidence the court will consider in making this determination.
Delaware’s anti-SLAPP law does not address the effect of a SLAPP defendant’s motion on discovery proceedings.
If the court grants the motion to dismiss or for summary judgment, it may—but is not required to—award the defendant attorney’s fees, costs, and actual damages. § 8138. It may also award punitive damages to a defendant who demonstrates that the action was brought “for the purpose of harassing, intimidating, punishing or otherwise maliciously inhibiting the free exercise of speech, petition or association rights.” Id.