The definition of harassment is ‘pursuing a course of conduct which causes a person alarm or distress. The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 defines harassment. To be defined as ‘harassment’, there must be more than one incident of harassment that has taken place. Also when assessing whether the conduct constitutes harassment can be objective. If another person considered that conduct, they would consider it to be conducted which amounts to harassment. Harassment also includes speech.
Harassment can occur in all areas of your life, at home or at work by neighbours, former friends, ex-partners, spouses, colleagues, acquaintances or even by people you don’t know. Harassment is a criminal and civil offence and when someone takes the step to contact a solicitor, they have often reported harassment allegations to the police first. The Police normally advise that a solicitor is contacted in order to potentially obtain an injunction against the offending party. If an injunction is obtained and then later this is breached, the police can intervene. Obtaining an injunction for harassment, however, can be complicated.
An injunction is an order from a court for the offending party to stop the conduct with sanctions for breaching the order. Injunctions should be a last resort solution and the court’s preference is that the involved parties seek to resolve the matter between themselves first. Because of this, the normal process is to first write to the offending party requesting that they stop the harassment and that they will refrain from similar conduct in the future. If they don’t agree, you would then explain that you would seek an order for an injunction. The purpose of this first letter is:
1) To try to stop the offending party from their conduct.
2) To demonstrate to a court that you have taken reasonable steps prior to making an application for an injunction, and it is now necessary for the Court to intervene.
If after responding to the first letter, it appears that the offending party either will not stop its conduct; or appears to disregard the letter and continue with their actions, it could then be the appropriate time to seek an injunction against them. In most instances, a court order imposed upon the offending party is taken seriously than a simple warning by letter. It is therefore important that measures are put into place if a warning does not stop the offending party.
You can seek an injunction on one of two bases: with notice to the other party or without notice depending on the urgency of your matter and we can advise which is more appropriate for you.
We offer a Free Initial Discussion to talk through your situation so that we have a clearer understanding of the best course of action to take. If you are feeling like you are being harassed, we understand that you are likely to be feeling vulnerable and distressed and we are here to help you through the legal process.