o PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT ACT 1997 o

 

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is explained and discussed in the folowing sections of this page. To return to this section at any time click on the "1997 Act" button to the left.

Information about The Protection from Harassment Act
Articles and Reports on The Protection from Harassment Act
Case Law on The Protection from Harassment Act
Claims for Damages under The Protection from Harassment Act
Alternatives to the The Protection from Harassment Act
Northern Ireland, Isle of Man & Channel Islands


o PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT ACT 1997 o
(Information about The Act)

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997. is the main legislation dealing with harassment. It creates 2 criminal offences (sections 2 & 4) and also authorises civil courts to award damages and make injunctions in harassment cases (section 3). Though it was passed primarily because of concern about 'stalking' the wording of the Act allows it to be used to cover other types of harassment as well as 'stalking'. This was clearly laid down by Mr Justice Collins in the High Court (Divisional Court) case of   Director of Public Prosecutions v Moseley, Selvanayagam and Woodling 9th June 1999 when he said

'Whatever may have been the purpose behind the Act, its words are clear, and it can cover harassment of any sort'


The Court of Appeal in the case of   Esther Thomas v News Group Newspapers (The Sun) [2001] EWCA Civ 1233   has agreed that, in certain situations, the Act can even apply to Newspaper Articles which cause Harassment whilst in  Majrowski v. Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Trust [2006] UKHL 34 it was held that that the Act could be used in cases of Bullying in the workplace

The Act came into force on 16th June 1997 and behaviour after that date can provide the basis for a criminal prosecution, a claim for damages, or a civil injunction. Injunctions made under the Act are unique because breach of them is a criminal offence punishable with up to 5 years imprisonment (sections 3(6) & 3(9)) . Also unique is section 5 of the act which allows criminal courts to impose restraining orders on defendants who have been convicted of criminal harassment offences. Breach of a restraining order is itself a criminal offence punishable with up to 5 years imprisonment.

The most important part of the Act is section 1 which states that

'A person must not pursue a course of conduct
(a) which amounts to harassment of another, and
(b) which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.'


Section 7
defines 'harassment' as including causing alarm or causing distress and states that a 'course of conduct' must involve conduct on at least 2 occasions

Click Here to read some of the chapters in
'Blackstone's Guide to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997'
written by Neil Addison and Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden

Chapter 1 - Background to the Act
Chapter 2 - Criminal Harassment
Chapter 6 - Breach of an Harassment Injunction


o PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT ACT 1997 o
(Articles and Reports on The Act)

(Some of these reports are marked as "PDF" and you need to have, or to install, Adobe Acrobat Viewer to read them. PDF documents can be slow to download but let me know if you have difficulties with any particular document)


For two contrasting views on the working of the Act in its first few years read articles by
Evonne von Heussen, 1 WebJCLI 2000 and by
Neil Addison, Times 21 March 2000

For an interesting analysis of the 1999 case of DPP v Selvanayagam read
'Lawful Protest or Campaign of Harassment' by Emily Finch 5 WebJCLI 1999

In the middle of 2000 the Home Office published a
Research Report on The Use and Effectiveness of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (PDF)
which provides a great deal of information on how the act is working in practice.


For a view of how the Act could be used in cases involving harassment or bullying in the workplace read An article from The Guardian 8th December 1998
(Written by Neil Addison and Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden and dealing with The Protection from Harassment Act and bullying at work t)

For a review of the first few years of the Act read
An article from The Family Law Journal December 2001, by Neil Addison

o PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT ACT 1997 o
(Case Law)


The following cases concerning the act have either been reported in the Law Reports section of 'The Times' or are available as full transcripts on Web site www.bailii.org. Unfortunately after April 2000 The Times stopped making its Law Reports freely available on the internet. Where both the Bailii and Times reports are available then the Times report is accessed by clicking on the "Times" reference on the right and the Bailli report by clicking on the case name.


Huntingdon Life Sciences v Curtin                               (Times 11th December 1997)
Director of Public Prosecutions v Williams                     EWHC (Admin) 27th July, 1998
Regina v Liddle, Regina v Hayes                                    (Times 26th May 1999)
Director of Public Prosecutions v Moseley & others            (Times 23rd June 1999)
West London Magistrates Court Ex Parte Waite                EWHC Admin 7th July, 1999
Barking Youth Court Ex parte 'B'                                         EWHC Admin 27 July 1999
Director of Public Prosecutions v Lau                                (Times 29th March 2000 )
Regina v Mann                                                                   (Times 11th April 2000)
Director of Public Prosecutions v Dunn                               (Times 1st November 2000 )
Tuppen v Microsoft                                                            (Times 15th November 2000 )
Regina v Hills                                                                     (Times 20th December 2000 )
Director of Public Prosecutions v R                                     (Times 20th February 2001)
Regina v Colohan                                                               (Times 14th June 2001)
Esther Thomas v "The Sun"                                               [2001] EWCA Civ 1233
Pratt v Director of Public Prosecutions                               (Times 22nd August 2001)
Director of Public Prosecutions v Dziurzynski                       (Times 8th July 2002)

Wong v Parkside NHS Trust                                                 [2001] EWCA Civ 1721
RG and LT v Director of Public Prosecutions                       [2004] EWHC 183 (Admin)
Majrowski v. Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Trust                    [2006] UKHL 34



o PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT ACT 1997 o
(Claims for Damages for Harassment)


Most discussion regarding the Protection from Harassment Act has tended to concentrate on its criminal offences and use of Injunctions. It is however important to remember that section 3(2) of the act allows civil courts to award damages to victims of harassment for

'(amongst other things) any anxiety caused by the harassment and any financial loss resulting from the harassment'.

For example if a self employed person was unable to work due to stress caused by a course of conduct of harassment they could sue to recover the money they would have earned. Similarly if someone had to fit security devices in their home because of the actions of a stalker they could sue to recover the costs of obtaining and installing those devices. Depending on the circumstances a person who had intimate personal photographs published in the press could sue for the distress caused by their publication.

If someone is harassed at their place of work they could decide to sue their employer for damages using the Protection from Harassment Act rather than by going to an Employment Tribunal. In some circumstances this route could be simpler particularly if there could be technical arguments as to whether they were an employee or a self employed contractor. Those employment law technicalities would not be relevant in any legal claim under the act. All that would be relevant is the fact that the harassment occurred, the damage it caused and whether the employer was vicariously liable for permitting, or not preventing the Harassment. For more information on this go to The Harassment at Work Web Page

Under Section 6 of the Act the time limit for bringing a claim for damages is 6 years.


o PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT ACT 1997 o
(Alternatives to the Act)


The Act is not the only legislation which deals with Harassment. Where someone is being harassed by a person they are married to or have been married to, by a former cohabitant, if they are relatives, if they have a child in common or if they have lived in the same household for a period then they are regarded as "associated persons" under the Family Law Act 1996. Associated persons under this act can obtain "Non Molestation Orders" under sections 42 to 63 of the Act. Courts can attach a power of arrest to these orders so allowing the Police to enforce them. Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that it is often easier to obtain legal aid under the Family Law Act rather than under the Protection from Harassment Act and often easier to persuade a court to grant a Non Molestation Order rather than a Non Harassment Injunction. There seems to be no logical reason for this but that appears to be the situation.

There are a large number of other Criminal Offences involving Harassment many of which are Public Order or threat based. There are also specific criminal offences of  Harassment of a person at their Home,   Harassment of Tenants,   Harassment of Debtors, and   Harassment during Trade Disputes.

Click Here to read An article about the Offence of Harassment of a person at their Home

o PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT LEGISLATION o
(Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Channel Islands)


The Protection from Harassment (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 applies to cases of harassment in Northern Ireland. It came into force on the 17th June 1997. The order copies the wording of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 exactly but, for no apparent reason, uses completely different numbering. This means that articles 3 to 8of the Northern Ireland order are the same as sections 1 to 6 of the Act, article 2is the same as section 7 and article 9 is the same as section 12. Provided that this difference in numbering is borne in mind all the information on this site about the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 also applies to the Northern Ireland Order 1997 . The one exception being Section 7(3A) of the English Act which deals with collective harassment and which is not reproduced in the Northern Ireland legislation.

The Isle of Man Parliament (The Tywald) passed The Protection from Harassment Act 2000 as a direct copy of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 in force in England and Wales. Even the numbering of the sections is the same and therefore with two exceptions all the information on this site can be applied to the Isle of Man. The two exceptions being Section 7(3A) of the English Act which deals with collective harassment and section 12 which deals with National Security. Neither of these sections are reproduced in the Manx legislation. The Isle of Man legislation came into force on the 18th October 2000.
 
The States of Guernsey has also passed The Protection from Harassment (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2005 as a direct copy of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 in force in England and Wales and therefore the information on this site also applies to Guernsey. However the numbering is different. The Guernsey sections 3 & 4 are the same as the English sections 4 & 5, whilst the Guernsey section 5 is the same as the English section 3. Also the Guernsey s7(3) allows a Company to be the victim of Harassment, which is different to the position in England,
Jersey has passed the Crime (Disorderly Conduct and Harassment) (Jersey) Law 2008 which unusually duplicates sections 2 & 5 of the 1997 Act but ignores sections 3 and 4


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