The Domestic Violence Act and Protection from Harassment Act respectively set out the procedures to be followed to obtain a Protection Order against someone.
Protection Orders are critically important in providing safety and security for those most vulnerable people who are affected by domestic violence and/or harassment, but unfortunately there are some who abuse this process to obtain Protection Orders on false grounds, which they can then wield as a weapon against someone else instead.
There is a safeguard in the Acts for such an abuse of the court process to try and deter it from happening, by allowing for a costs order to be made by the Court against any party in the proceedings who “has acted frivolously, vexatiously or unreasonably” in the opinion of the Magistrate dealing with the matter.
This accordingly serves as a punitive and prohibitive measure by imposing looming consequences in respect of the actions of those involved, in particular to an applicant who is trying to abuse the court process to try and obtain a Protection Order where they can have the respondent arrested by the police by alleging a breach of it.
Like many legislative punitive measures, Courts are generally reluctant to grant these costs orders on a regular basis unless they feel it is particularly warranted in the specific circumstances in the matter, especially since there is a concern that regular costs orders in these types of proceedings may prevent people who are genuinely suffering from domestic violence and/or harassment from coming forward.
This issue must accordingly be raised in the proceedings with the Court and must be additionally and/or separately argued strongly to convince the Magistrate to grant it.
Our offices were recently involved in a matter where we successfully argued for a costs order to be granted in favour of our client against the applicant where we had objective proof against the claims made by her, and she then abandoned the matter completely (but not before our client had been forced to incur further legal costs by her refusal to withdraw the matter at an earlier stage).
We specialise in family law matters. For more information about harassment application orders please view this link : https://benitaardenbaum.com/family-law/harrassment-applications-orders/
Author – Murray Taylor