Injunctions - FAQs

What is an Injunction?
Injunctions are court orders which might tell a person that they are not allowed to do a certain act.
 
The common areas in which injunctions are applied for is when a relationship has broken down and one party is harassing, threatening or assaulting the other. 
These injunctions are known as "Domestic Violence Injunctions".
 
Such orders can prevent someone harassing or assaulting you or coming within a certain distance of your home or order someone to leave your home.
 
An injunction might also prevent somebody publishing something about you which you do not like. Or an injunction may prevent someone from leaving the country or getting rid of their assets.
 
In family cases an injunction can stop your opponent removing a child from your care or out of the country.
 
Injunctions can also be taken out against noisy neighbours or stalkers etc. 
 
What is a Common Law Injunction?
These are sometimes called "Assault & Trespass Injunctions". You cannot get a power of arrest with these injunctions or an order to force somebody who is living in your home (such as a relative) to leave, if they have a right to be there. But, these injunctions will stop somebody coming onto your property without your permission or assaulting you.
 
Will an injunction prevent someone coming to my home?
Some Injunctions will say that your opponent cannot come within a certain distance of your home or if they are already living in your home that they must leave and not return. In domestic violence injunctions they are called "Occupation Orders". In common law injunctions they are called "Trespass Orders".
 
Will an injunction stop someone taking my children away?
Under the Children Act you can apply for a "Prohibited Steps Order".
This is a type of injunction which will stop someone removing a child from your care. Please see our section on the law relating to children.
 
What else can an injunction do?
Some injunctions will stop someone removing important documents, property or money.
Other injunctions can stop something being published about you that you do not like or using information or property belonging to you. For example, if you are involved in a divorce and you are making a financial claim against your partner, you may be able to get an injunction to stop him or her selling any property, spending or moving any savings, before your case has been decided by the court.
 
When is an injunction valid?
When the court gives you an injunction, before the injunction can start your opponent must be personally handed a copy of the injunction. This is called "serving" the injunction, your solicitor will be able to arrange this for you as it is definitely not a good idea to do it yourself. An injunction is therefore only valid when the opponent has been served with the court order.
 
How do I apply?
Your solicitor can apply for you or you can go to your local County Court or Magistrates Court and ask them for forms to apply.
 
For some Injunctions you may need to apply to the High Court.
 
Some County Courts are allowed to hear High Court cases, they are known as "District Registries of the High Court". You should check with your local County Court whether they can hear High Court cases.
 
You will need to make a sworn statement known as an "Affidavit" to explain why you want an injunction. (You can use a statement rather than an Affidavit when applying for a common law injunction).
 
Some injunctions can be applied for as an emergency and your opponent need not be at court when you apply for an injunction against them.
 
You may have to go to court a second time and this time your opponent will be present to tell their side of the story to the court.
 
Some injunctions allow the police to arrest your opponent if he breaks the injunction.
 
What is a Power of Arrest?
If the parties are married or were living together at the time of the violence then the court order can contain a "power of arrest" to allow the police to arrest the party who ignores or breaks the order.
 
If your partner breaks the order and you call the police, they will ask to see a copy of the order to see if it has a Power of Arrest. Once the police have arrested that person they must bring them back to court within 24 hours. The police can of course charge that person with a criminal offence if one has been committed.
 
A power of arrest can only be attached to an "occupation order" and not a non-molestation order. This is because the Domestic Violence Crime & Victims Act 2004, which came into effect in September 2005 has made breaching a non-molestation order a criminal offence and therefore the police will have to arrest someone breaching an order.
 
If an Injunction Order is broken and there is no power of arrest. What can I do?
If the injunction is broken then you can go back to court and apply for your opponent to be sent to prison. This is known as "committal proceedings". You need to have evidence that the injunction has been broken. It is always a good idea to write down anything that your opponent does, this will help your solicitor. You may be able to apply for a warrant of arrest. This will allow your opponent to be arrested and brought before the court.
 
What is a Warrant of Arrest?
If an Injunction Order has been broken then the courts can issue a warrant for the arrest of the person who has broken the Injunction Order, but you will need to go back to court to apply for this. The warrant is sent to the police who then arrest that person and can either hold them in custody until they can be brought before the court or grant them bail and give them a date when they are to go back to court.
 
What are Special Domestic Violence Courts?
These are magistrates courts that bring together police, prosecutors, magistrates, probation service and specialist support agencies to help ensure more domestic violence offenders are prosecuted. Magistrates in these courts are specially trained in dealing with domestic violence cases.
 

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