Protection from Harassment


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Harassment is when someone behaves in a way which makes you feel distressed, humiliated or threatened. It could be in the form of unwanted phone calls, letters, emails or visits. Verbal abuse and threats can constitute harassment, as can stalking or just about any behaviour intended to frighten and distress you.

The law provides protection from harassment which is available from either the civil or criminal courts. When harassment is shown, an injunction can be issued forbidding the person harassing you from continuing their behaviour. If they do not do so, they can be prosecuted and sent to prison. They can also be ordered to pay you compensation.

This guide deals with the provisions of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, and how an application for the courts protection may be made in person and without incurring the cost of employing a lawyer. A number of example applications which can be followed are included.

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (PFHA) makes harassment both a criminal and civil offence. It provides protection in a wide variety of situations which include neighbour disputes, problems at work, libel and slander and protection from such as bailiffs or the media. The protection is available not only against individuals but also against companies, however only an individual can bring a claim under the Act.

What is Harassment.

Harassment is not defined in the act and what amounts to harassment will always be a matter for the court to decide. It is clear however that harassment will constitute a course of action which causes alarm or distress and that the offence is committed when someone behaves in a way which makes you feel distressed, humiliated, or threatened.

Examples of harassment can include unwanted phone calls, letters, emails, or visits. As such there must be a course of action of at least two incidents before an action is possible. It must also be possible to show that the person carrying out the harassment knew or should have known that his or her actions were likely to cause alarm or distress.
The Harassment Act has been used in a variety of circumstances:

Claims against cyber-stalkers / cyber-bullies and internet trolls
Claims against photographers/paparazzi
Claims against those making anonymous postings on the internet
Claims against pressure groups
Claims against newspapers for offensive articles
Claims of receiving unjustified threats to cut off utility supplies
Claims of receiving unjustified threats of legal proceedings
Claims arising from the publication of defamatory allegations
Claims against employers and co-workers
Claims against schools and local authorities for pupil bullying
Claims against by street gangs for ‘collective harassment’
Claims against neighbours
Claims against negligent builders who are pressing for payment
Claims against obsessive stalkers
Claims against the police
Claims against debt collectors
Claims against those attempting to gain possession of premises

The Act can be used by a victim to seek financial compensation by bringing a civil claim for damages for (amongst other things) the distress and upset caused by the harassment and any other financial loss. For the purposes of a civil claim for damages, it is usually sufficient to show that harassment took place on more than one occasion or that the victim feared repetition, and that the conduct was oppressive and unacceptable.


What is Harassment. 0

Section 1 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1

The criminal offence of harassment 3

Defences 5

The Offence of Fear of Violence 6

The civil offence of harassment 8

Bullying and harassment in the workplace 11

Stalking 15

Cyber Stalking 17

Procedure to apply for an injunction 19

Restraining Orders 21

Some Cases 21

Example Particulars of Claim 28
Injunction and damages for harassment in a neighbour dispute 28
Particulars of Claim: Harassment at business premises 30
Particulars of Claim for harassment and for an injunction against a stalker 32
Harassment and bullying at work claim 34
Claim for damages for stress caused by harassment in the workplace 37
Defence: Neighbour dispute harassment claim 42