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How to get an injunction to stop harassment
Injunctions against harassment can be granted by the criminal courts in relation to almost any criminal conviction and by the civil courts in connection with divorce proceedings or any other harassment including harassment on the internet.
If you were to apply to the High Court for an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act, in some cases, the court might be willing to grant you an interim injunction, which means, you could obtain the harassment injunction fairly quickly and certainly at the first court hearing in your case. To obtain the harassing injunction fast, you will need to have your case highly prepared, at least to a degree where all your evidence is available for the judge to consider.
The reason for the need to have your case prepared thoroughly before you apply for an emergency harassment injunction is for the judge to consider whether, on balance, you are more likely than not to win your case following a trial. Whilst at this early stage of the proceedings, the other side’s evidence has not been heard yet, the judge will still be able to grant you the harassment injunction on a temporary basis, based on your witness statement and if available, a witness statement, or verbal evidence by the other party, against whom, you intend to obtain the injunction. It is therefore possible, in most cases, to obtain an injunction for harassment at he first hearing in your case, which may take place at a walk-in court session.
Usually, you will not need to apply, and wait for, a hearing date. You will simply need to attend the court on the date of your application and wait for a an available judge to hear your case. It is recommended, however, that you file your evidence with the court, complete all the relevant court forms and pay the court fees, on the day before. This will increase the likelihood of your harassment injunction being heard on the following day and will also give the judge an opportunity to review your evidence prior to the hearing.
The longest case of online harassment in the UK
For cases involving online harassment, you can apply for the harassment injunction as soon as you believe that the harassment against you has reached the criminal threshold of seriousness. What this means, is that whilst the High Court requires you to only prove your case on balance of probabilities, the seriousness of the harassment against you, still needs to be high, to the extent that if it was considered by the criminal court, the criminal court would have concluded that it was justified to grant the harassment injunction.
As soon as the harassment against you has reached the criminal threshold, you can make your application of the harassment injunction. Only apply for the harassment injunction once you are ready. You must not rush it, despite the sense of urgency that you might feel that exist. It you apply for the harassment injunction when your application is still half-baked, there is a risk that the judge will not grant you the application and will ask you to come back on another day.
The next time you attend court, it will already be on record that your application for an injunction has been refused once, which will inevitably make it harder for you now to convince a new judge to grant it for you. Whilst timing of the application for the harassment injunction is crucial, you must be prepared for the hearing as good as you possible can. In most cases, it is better to have a slight delay of a day or two with your harassment injunction application to ensure you have it granted on the first hearing date, rather than rush it and have it refused.
There is no time limit for making an application for an injunction for harassment. You must bring your harassment case within six years of the harassment taking place but victims of harassment are expected to act promptly. If you were to apply for an emergency harassment injunction, you must show to the court that there is a real emergency, which means if you have lived with the harassment for weeks or for months, it would be difficult for you to convince a judge that you need an emergency injunction against harassment. At the same time, if you have been suffering from harassment for a long period of time and an additional harassing event has taken place recently, you will be, in most cases, justified in applying to the court for an emergency harassment injunction, on the basis of the recent escalating harassment events. most common of these types of injunctions are restraining orders, which require a party to refrain from doing certain acts. Breaching a restraining order can result in an immediate remand in custody, a prison sentence and a criminal record.
Any victim of harassment may apply to the court for an injunction against harassment. In cases of online harassment, the victim may apply to have the post written against them removed, or for ongoing communications which are initiated by the harasser to stop. A parent or guardian will need to apply for the harassment injunction on behalf of their child. It is recommended to have a specialist solicitor assisting you with the harassment injunction application because if your harassment injunction is refused by the court, this could fuel further harassment by your tormentor who may interpret the refusal by the court to grant you an injunction as a licence to continue harassing you.
Whilst there is no requirement for anyone who apply for a harassment injunction to be represented by a solicitor at the High Court, we recommend that you secure legal representation before making your harassment injunction application because these type of injunction applications tend to be complex as they often involve free speech considerations and other potential restrictions on human rights.
You may apply for a harassment injunction without telling your harasser about it. This is called an ex parte harassment injunction application. The advantage of not giving your harasser notice of the harassment injunction application is to prevent them from publishing details of your harassment application. In your witness statement to the court, you are likely to discuss personal matters and in some cases, even make some unpleasant admissions.
It you were to give your harasser notice of the harassment injunction application, your harasser might take the legal documents which you served him with and post them online to cause you further harassment and distress. For this reason, in many cases, you might wish to make an application for a harassment injunction without giving notice to your harasser. At the same time, if you were to prevent your harasser from coming to court to defend your harassment injunction application, there is a risk that the judge will be reluctant to grant your harassment injunction in the first place for fear of circumventing the right to free speech.
A judge is more likely to grant your interim harassment injunction if the harasser has been notified of the court hearing and the judge had an opportunity to ask him questions in the hearing be impressed one way or another by your harasser’s attitude and approach. Our advice is to give notice to your harasser of the interim injunction application, unless there are good reasons not to.
An injunction is a court order, which either orders someone to take action or which order them to refrain from doing something. Breaches of court orders, including injunctions, are generally regarded as being strict liability offences, meaning there is no excuse or defence and no criminal intent by the defendant is required in order to be found guilty. The consequences of breaching a restraining order or a harassment injunction are very serious and they might include committal proceedings which involves a trial for contempt of court in the High Court, after which, your harasser might be sent to prison by the judge.
The trial for contempt of court is before a judge without a jury and often the judge’s decision is final. It is important that the harassment injunction is drafted clearly in the first place because if the injunction is inadvertently drafted with too much or too little scope for breach, be assured that your harasser will find the loophole to give himself permission to continue harassing you.
If you have been served with a harassing injunction in relation to your online activities and if you are not sure about its full meaning, we would recommend you take legal advice as soon as possible from internet law specialist lawyers.
When you contact a solicitor about your concerns in connection with internet related injunction, make sure your solicitor understands the specific issues that relate to internet publications and that your legal representatives are experience in the field and are familiar with technical ‘jargon’. Make sure the solicitor reviews the harassment injunction together with the entire case papers and that you obtain legal advice before making any further publications.