An Australian mining magnate has been dealt a bruising legal smackdown by the South African legal system which he sought to 'weaponise', seemingly to bully and silence lawyers and environmental activists. The landmark legal case is set to shape future laws and tame intimidatory legal tactics by corporations, known as SLAPP suits.
Australian mining company chief Mark Victor Caruso will be nursing a bruised ego and legal black eye today after Western Cape High Court deputy judge president Patricia Goliath ruled strongly against him and his company in the preliminary rounds of a protracted legal case in which he has claimed at least R14.5-million in damages for "defamation".
Caruso is the executive chairman of the Western Australia-based mining group Mineral Resources Commodities Limited (MRC) which has claimed punitive damages against three South African environmental attorneys and three community activists for defamation - or a written apology - after they voiced criticism against his company's controversial sand-mining venture at Xolobeni on the Eastern Cape's Wild Coast and the current Tormin operations on the West Coast.
Goliath said it appeared that the legal action for alleged defamation was not aimed at obtaining monetary or financial damages, but rather to silence critics of...