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The Protection from Harassment Act 1997

Protection from Harassment Act 1997


What is Harassment?


Harassment is when a person behaves in a way, which is intended to cause another distress or alarm. Such behaviour must occur on more than one occasion. The mentioned behaviour can be the same type of behaviour or different types of behaviour on each occasion.  It can include things your abuser has said or done. The incidents of harassment could have happened recently or months apart.


What will the court consider is Harassment?


When considering whether you have been harassed, the court will consider whether a reasonable person who has the same information would view it as harassment.


What are the different forms of Harassment?


An incident could be a range of things for example a text, answer phone message, letter or email, a comment, threat, standing outside someone’s house , driving past someone’s house,  an act of violence , damage to someone’s property and reporting you to the police when you have not done anything.


How can the Protection from Harassment Order help me?


A Protection from Harassment Order can help someone who is being harassed. Each order will contain binding conditions and directions tailored to your individual needs and what is required to protect you in your individual circumstances. The court can make an order in an emergency so that this protection is in place straightaway.   A Protection from Harassment Order can be made at the same time as a police investigation or other criminal proceedings taking place.


What Directions/ conditions can I apply for?


You can apply for this order to prevent your abuser from doing certain things such as being physically violent, contacting you directly or indirectly, going to your place of work or home address or the school of any children you share.


Who can apply for a Protection from Harassment Order and who can the Order be made against?


Protection from Harassment orders are usually applied for when your relationship with the abuser does not come under the definition of “associated person” to allow you to make an application for a non-molestation order under the Family Law Act 1996.


Applying for a Protection from Harassment Order


An application for a Protection from Harassment Order can be made within the Family Court in England and Wales. The Order can be applied for by, the person who is to be protected by the order, a relevant third party and any other person with permission of the court. 


I am scared about the Court Procedure, what should I do?


The court can offer separate waiting rooms, separate court entrances and exits, parking on court premises and some courts may offer witness protection facilities. The court can also offer screens to ensure you cannot see the respondent in court. You may be able to give your evidence by video, through a live TV or video link outside the courtroom. The court can also provide interpreters.


What is the Application Process for a Protection from Harassment Order?


Application for a Protection from Harassment Order can be made by yourself or you can instruct a solicitor to help you .A Form has to be completed and filed with the Court. If you need the courts permission to apply on behalf of someone else a further form must also be completed. If you want your address to be confidential then they must complete the required form. 


A sworn statement in support of the application must also be filed alongside the application. This statement needs to outline the reasons for the application and what orders are being asked for. The application can be heard on notice or without notice to the respondents and can be heard urgently If a without notice order is made by the judge, the matter will be listed for a further hearing where the respondents will be able to attend to provide their positon in relation to the application.


Once the court have processed the forms they will then provide a notice of hearing. If the Hearing is on notice then the application forms, sworn statement and notice of hearing must be served on the respondents and other persons.


Legal Aid and Protection from Harassment Orders


Legal aid is available for applications for a Protection from Harassment Order and committal proceedings for Breach of a Protection from Harassment Order, however it is means and merits tested. Legal Aid is available for both as a Respondent and an Applicant.


What happens at the Hearing?


The application for a Protection from Harassment Order will be heard in private. The court may make interim orders whilst further information is awaited if this is required and then a further hearing will be listed. The Court will make an order for a specified period and they may list the matter for a further hearing once the period of time has lapsed or if and when a further application is made. Depending on this case, the Court may make no order and instead deal with the matter by way of undertakings. An undertaking is a promise to the court to do, or not to do certain things. Breaching an undertaking is contempt of court and is punishable with up to two years in prison.


What if the Respondent breaches the Protection from Harassment Order?


The Family Courts can deal with breach of the order.


How can Duncan Lewis Solicitors help you?


Duncan Lewis Solicitors have specialist solicitors who represent parents, family members and children within this area of law. Our solicitors, trainees and caseworkers also speak a range of languages to assist clients where required with any language barriers.


Duncan Lewis is recommended by The Legal 500 legal directory for its specialism in all aspects of family and children law nationwide and cross-border. The Legal 500 applauds our family and child care solicitors to be a team of lawyers that are ‘friendly professionals who take their time to understand your case’. Duncan Lewis team includes Advanced Members of the Law Society’s Family Panel, and members of the Law Society Children.


For expert legal advice on all family and childcare matters, contact Duncan Lewis Solicitors on 033 3772 0409.


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