Another effect of the SLAPP is to distract the key antagonists from the main controversy and use up their money, time and energy in the courtroom, where the issues are not discussed. In this way they are distracted from their public campaigning activities and do not have the energy or time to devote to them that they otherwise would have.
The cost to a developer is part of the costs of doing business but the cost of a court case could well bankrupt an individual or an environmental group. In this way the legal system serves best, those who have large financial resources at their disposal, particularly corporations.
A SLAPP takes an average of three years and even if the person being sued wins it can cost tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Personal and emotional stress, disillusionment, diversion of time and energy, and even divisions within families, communities and groups can also result. For example George Campbell organised his neighbours to protest against the expansion of an airport near their homes in Worcester, Massachusetts. After he was threatened with a lawsuit from the city council for $1.3 million he thought he was going to loose everything and ended up in hospital as a result of the stress. The council dropped the suit a few weeks later.