An harassment injunction is a court order that prohibits a person from doing something, such as contacting someone else, publishing information about them on a website or on social media. It can also set up an exclusion zone around a defined area, such as 50 meters around a house or office.
A claim for an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 can be brought in the County Court or High Court. If in the County Court, it should be in the local County Court where either the Claimant or Defendant reside or carry out business.
A claim for an injunction can also include damages for anxiety and distress and/or financial loss.
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 creates the tort of harassment. The court has the power to grant an injunction under Civil Procedure Rule 25(1)(1)(a) and under section 37(1) of the Senior Courts Act 1981 (High Court) and for the County Court under section 38 County Courts Act 1984.
Generally, to be successful in an application for an interim injunction the Claimant would have to show that on the balance of probabilities the Claimant would succeed in a harassment action at trial, which would involve consideration of the cause of action as set out within the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and that the balance of convenience lay in favour of an injunction.
Harassment is not defined in the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. However harassment includes ‘alarming the person or causing the person distress’, the course of conduct must involve conduct on at least two occasions (although a person who may be harassed can also apply for an injunction).
The balance of convenience is tested with reference to the principles laid out in American Cynamid Co v Ethicon Limited  CA 396, which are: Is there a serious issue to be tried, would damages be an adequate remedy and where does the balance of convenience lay.
After an interim injunction hearing there may be a return date hearing (i.e. within 7 or 14 days) and there may be a final trial of the matter (within 1 to 12 months). However the Courts are flexible. Sometimes there is no need for a return date hearing. Sometimes the court effectively deals with the whole matter at the interim injunction hearing and sometimes both sides settle after the interim inunction hearing so that there is no need for a final trial.
Usually live evidence is not considered at the initial hearing or the return date hearing. The final trial of the matter will usually involve live witness evidence and cross examination and a detailed analysis of the evidence. Generally speaking the burden of proof at a final trial is higher than at the interim injunction hearing.
A breach of a civil injunction (without reasonable excuse) is an offence and can be punished by a contempt of court or a criminal conviction.
For further information on the law or legal procedure please access the appropriate pages on this website.