Under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 it is a criminal offence for someone to Harass you. The act also creates a civil cause of action for individuals who are subject to Harassment.
If someone has been threatening or abusive towards you and you feel you are in danger, then you must report the matter to the police right away. The police will advise you what to do and will make a decision on whether there is sufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution to be brought.
This article concentrates on the civil cause of action. This will usually arise from behaviour which is threatening and abusive but where the police have indicated a criminal case is not to be brought or where the harassment is “less serious”. That is not to say however that a civil case cannot be brought as well as a criminal prosecution.
Harassment is usually behaviour such as:-
- Unwanted letters / emails / telephone calls
- Verbal abuse and threats
- Online abuse or bullying
- Damage to property
There will usually have to be two or more incidents for the behaviour to be classed as Harassment. The Court decide what is Harassment and the test is usually whether a “reasonable person” would class that behaviour as Harassment.
We have recently seen an increase in clients contacting us about neighbour disputes where their neighbour is causing them distress due to ongoing incidents. This may be nuisance behaviour designed to intimidate the other person or actual physical violence.
To bring a civil action there must be evidence of Harassment which is why it is a good idea to create and keep a log of events with dates, times and an explanation of what happened so that you can use this as evidence on ongoing behaviour. If you can install CCTV at your property to record any incidents this is also good evidence.
You will have 6 years to bring a claim for Harassment from the date of the Harassment.
If the Court find in your favour, they can order an injunction to prevent the person from Harassing you. If they breach this injunction, it is a criminal offence and they can be prosecuted. The Court can also award financial compensation if you have suffered emotional distress.
If you are facing this sort of issue, speak to one of our Team today to see how we can help you.