This information was last updated: 8 December 2015
If you are suffering from abuse, threats, harassment, pestering or intimidation, you can apply for an injunction to help protect you and any children. You can apply for an injunction if you have been the victim of abuse perpetrated by an ‘associated person’. You are associated persons if:
- You are or have been married
- You are or have been civil partners
- You are or have been engaged to be married
- You are or have been cohabiting whilst in a relationship
- You have had an intimate personal relationship of significant duration
- You are related
- You are the parents of a child, or one of you is the parent of a child for which the other has or had parental responsibility
- You are both parties to the same family proceedings
There are two types of injunctions:
- Non-molestation orders: This is a court order prohibiting the person named in the order from molesting you or a child; this includes violence, threats of violence and pestering. The order contains a list of things the respondent is prohibited from doing. The order can last either for a specified time, usually 6 or 12 months, or can be unlimited.
- Occupation orders: This is an order giving you the right to remain in occupation of the home and/or the right to exclude the person named in the order from the home, parts of the home or an area in which the home is situated. They can also impose obligations relating to the repair and maintenance of the home, as well as payment of the rent or mortgage.
The terms and duration of an occupation order will be determined by the parties’ entitlement to occupy the property. For example most orders last for 6 or 12 months, but orders beyond 12 months are only possible if you have a legal right to occupy the property.
There are two possible routes to obtaining an injunction.
- Usually you apply to the court ‘on notice’, which means the party against whom you are seeking the injunction has at least two days’ notice and can produce their own evidence at the hearing.
- Alternatively, if there is a risk of harm to you or any child if the order is not made immediately the court will consider any urgent ex parte applications made ‘without notice’ to the other person. This means the judge will listen only to your evidence before making the order.
You must complete an application form and witness statement setting out in detail what has taken place and why you need the court’s protection. This should include details of the respondent’s behaviour and, if applying for an occupation order, details of both parties’ housing needs and resources. If applying ex parte, you should also include why it is inappropriate to give notice, for example the possibility of harm. You can access all court forms online or ask for a copy from your local County Court. Guidance notes are also available online to assist you in completing some of the court forms. There is no longer a court fee to apply for an injunction.
There will then be a hearing. Your application will be heard in a closed court, which means no members of the public are allowed in. The judge will consider all the evidence and make a decision. In the making of a non-molestation order the court will consider the health, safety and well-being of the applicant and any child to determine if they need protection from the court. In the making of an occupation order the court will consider the balance of harm test, to address whether any person or child is likely to suffer significant harm if the order is or is not made, as well as the parties’ respective rights of occupation.
Court orders must be personally served to be effective. A process server can be used to ensure the respondent is personally served. Any interested parties must also be served, for example a landlord if an occupation order now means you will be the sole occupier and will be paying the rent. If there is a power of arrest attached to the injunction, a copy of that order and confirmation that the respondent has been served with the order should be taken to the police station nearest to where the respondent lives.
A breach of a non-molestation order is a criminal offence and can be punished by up to 5 or 12 years imprisonment. A breach of an occupation order is contempt of court, which is a civil offence. However, a power of arrest can be attached to this order and the respondent can be fined or imprisoned for a breach. If there is no power of arrest, you can apply to the court for one later.
Alternatives to injunctions:
Undertakings: These are binding promises made by the other party to the court, and are instead of an injunction. Breach of an undertaking is contempt of court. Protection from harassment: If you feel that you are harassed, you can apply for an injunction under new protection from harassment legislation, breach of which amounts to a criminal offence. Domestic Violence Protection Notices and Orders: These are also known as DVPOs. These relatively recent orders act to provide immediate protection in the aftermath of a domestic violence incident. The perpetrator can be banned with immediate effect from returning to a residence and having contact with the victim for 28 days. These new powers give you time to consider your options and perhaps make an application for an injunction.
Can we Help?
If you are of limited financial means, you may be eligible to receive legal aid to fund an application. Alternatively, we are able to offer reasonable rates or fixed fees.
If you would like to arrange a consultation please telephone 0208 885 7986
The information provided in this How To: is general advice and information and Wilsons Solicitors LLP accepts no liability for its applicability to the facts of your individual circumstances.
© Copyright - We have no objection to you replicating this material provided that you attribute and acknowledge Wilson Solicitors LLP as the source.