The Church of Scientology has been involved in numerous court disputes across the world. In some cases, when the Church has initiated the dispute, questions have been raised as to its motives. The Church of Scientology says that its use of the legal system is necessary to protect its intellectual property and its right to freedom of religion. Critics say that most of the organization's legal claims are designed to harass those who criticize it and its manipulative business practices.
In the years since its inception, the Church of Scientology's lawsuits filed against newspapers, magazines, government agencies (including the United States tax collecting unit, the IRS), and individuals have numbered in the thousands. In 1991, Time magazine estimated that the Church spends an average of about $20 million per year on various legal actions, and it is the exclusive client of several law firms. According to a U.S. District Court Memorand