Ratings in a Private Placement are Protected Speech Under California Law

On December 10, 2010, Judge Richard Kramer of the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, issued a tentative bench ruling that ratings issued by Moody’s, S&P and Fitch on structured investment vehicles are a form of protected speech concerning a subject of public interest protected by California’s “Anti-SLAPP law.” According to Judge Kramer, the Anti-SLAPP law is intended to “protect public debate from strategic lawsuits against public interest,” by subjecting suits with the potential to chill protected speech to early scrutiny on their merits. Hearing Transcript.