Protecting your Peace – Civil injunctions prohibiting harassment

17 Apr

During these trying times it can seem like we will never again interact with anyone outside of our household. Unfortunately for some people, the lockdown results in increased tensions with people outside the home. For instance, neighbour disputes and petty differences with others can take on a heightened meaning during this period of enforced lockdown. When attempts to resolve these difficulties fail, is there any recourse to the Courts?

Depending on the behaviour complained of, there is the option of making an application for a civil injunction restraining individuals from pursuing a course of conduct which amounts to harassment. In practical terms, the type of restrictions placed on the respondent could be a prohibition from approaching the applicant and/or his property. Such an application draws on the statutory power from section 3A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

To succeed in such an application, it needs to be shown that the respondent has acted in a way which has caused harassment and which he knows, or ought to have known, amounted to harassment of another, based on the reasonable person test.

Unlike other civil injunctions, such as freezing injunctions, an injunction to protect a person from harassment, does not require an underlying claim. Rather, the application can stand alone in its own right. If the respondent subsequently commits an act in contravention of the injunction, the applicant can then apply to the court, which granted the injunction, for a warrant to arrest the respondent. If ultimately the respondent is found to have breached the order, this is treated as a contempt of court and sentencing options include imprisonment.

The true benefit of obtaining an injunction against harassment is the peace of mind this grants the applicant – knowing that the court has put in place prohibitions against the respondent, prohibitions which if breached can have severe consequences for the respondent.

Article by Alexander Deakin – Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. Readers may contact should they wish formal legal advice on their particular circumstances.

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