Legal Assistance

See below for a list of legal funds, relevant organisations & helpful resources.

Journalists around the world are increasingly being silenced with legal threats and lawsuits, often in the form of SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). These suits are designed to wear you down and, ultimately, silence your investigation.

The Rory Peck Trust has put together a list of funds and organisations that can help by providing advice, support and financial assistance to freelance journalists, as well as links to valuable resources.

➤Jump to LEGAL FUNDS

➤Jump to ORGANISATIONS THAT CAN HELP

➤Jump to ONLINE RESOURCES

Legal Funds

Worldwide

Rory Peck Trust Legal Fund
Our Legal Fund helps professional freelance journalists cover the costs and fees related to legal action taken against them because of their reporting.

Media DefenceEmergency Defence
Provides legal help to journalists, citizen journalists and independent media across the world, as well as financially supports cases where journalists face costly and complex litigation in attempts to silence them.

Legal Defence Fund
Provides legal assistance to media professionals who have run into legal issues. Financial assistance is also available, for example for a lawyer or court costs. Families of imprisoned journalists can also apply for assistance. 

Europe

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom
Offers and coordinates legal support on matters related to free speech for individuals and organisations working in countries in Europe.

Media Freedom Rapid response
Supporting and protecting journalists and media workers in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.

Pers Vrij Heids Fonds 
Supports a broad range of rights of expression and access to information. While primarily focused on the Dutch media community, the Fund has given financial support to groups elsewhere in Europe. 

USA

Lawyers for Reporters (with the Press Freedom Defence Fund)
Provides pro bono legal assistance to local journalists and media organisations in the United States with the aim of supporting reporting in the public interest, particularly local journalism and social justice advocacy.

Knight litigation fund
Supports litigants in anti-SLAPP lawsuits and SLAPP defences.

Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors (FIRE) New Legal Service
Contract-related legal assistance for investigative journalists working on stories associated with English-language American outlets (although freelancers may reside outside of the United States). 

Society of Professional Journalists Legal Defense Fund
Initiates and supports litigation that enforces public access to government records and proceedings, but can also be used for organising, informing and lobbying aimed at enforcing access to these records and proceedings.

UK

The British Association of Journalists
Legal assistance usually requires 13 consecutive weeks continuous membership of the NUJ. The NUJ helps hundreds of members recover millions of pounds in compensation from employers and clients every year.

Brazil

Abraji
A new initiative in response to the increasing threats to freedom of the press and judicial harassment of journalists and communicators in Brazil.

Legal page

Online Resources

Rory Peck Trust Webinar on the Increasing Legal Risks Faced by Journalists
A joint RPT/ECPMF webinar that explored the main legal risks that journalists should be aware of and how to avoid the pitfalls of dealing with different legal systems.

Rory Peck Trust Legal Risk Tipsheet
A quick reference guide to SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) and how to protect yourself against them.

Anti-SLAPP Legal Guide – USA
This anti-SLAPP legal guide provides a general introduction to each state’s anti-SLAPP law.

CASE (Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe) Online Resources
Everything you need to understand, fight, and build resilience against SLAPPs – whether on a national, regional or global level.

NUJ Social Media Etiquette
Need-to-know information about key legal issues associated with using social media.

Reporters Without Borders and Thomson Reuters Foundation: Defence Handbook for Journalists & Bloggers
Produced in association with international law firm Paul Hastings LLP, this handbook provides guidance on freedom of expression and freedom of information principles in international law.

NUJ Copyright Law – UK 
Keep up to speed on copyright laws and how they affect your rights with this essential information.

Defamation Guide – USA
A guide to the laws about harm to a person’s reputation.

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Organisations that can help

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP)
Provides pro bono legal services and resources to and on behalf of journalists.

Cyrus R Vance Centre and Press Freedom Fund – Good Governance Program
Includes advising investigative journalism organisations on issues of avoiding and defending against defamation claims, establishing joint investigations through data sharing and co-publication, and setting codes of conduct to promote safety and equal opportunity. 

The National Crime Victim Bar Association 
Provides legal referrals to targets of cyberstalking and online harassment.

International Media Support (IMS)
Pushes for quality journalism, challenges repressive laws and keeps media workers of all genders safe, so that they can do their jobs.

The Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic
Dedicated to increasing government transparency, defending the essential work of news gatherers, and protecting freedom of expression by providing pro bono legal services, pursuing impact litigation and developing policy initiatives.

Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression
Acts as an independent ombudsman, investigating petitions or complaints and reporting to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights on violations of press freedoms.

Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) 
Fights online abuse and advocates for social and legal innovation to bring about change.

Article 19
Focuses on the defence and promotion of freedom of expression.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
Advocates for freedom of expression.

Freedom House
Conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights.

Front Line Defenders (FLD)
Protects human rights defenders at risk, people who work, non-violently, for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
A global union federation of journalists’ trade unions—the largest in the world.

International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF)
Works internationally to elevate the status of women in the media.

PEN America
Works to defend and celebrate free expression in the United States and worldwide through the advancement of literature and human rights.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Aims to safeguard the right to freedom of information.