Restraining Orders – Can they be avoided?
Restraining orders fall under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The orders are put in place so that people can feel protected when they feel like they are being harassed, often in cases of domestic violence. In many cases a complainant will “forgive and forget” before the order has been properly discharged. But any contact in breach of the order could still be a serious criminal offence, with a risk of up to 5 years in prison for being in breach of the order. In all circumstances, there is a specific procedure which the court follows in order to discharge the order. This process can be covered by legal aid, however an assessment will be required.
‘The prosecutor, the defendant or any other person mentioned in the order may apply to the court which made the order for it to be varied or discharged by a further order.’
‘The only question on an application or further application, under section 5(4) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, to discharge [or vary] a restraining order made under that section, was whether something had changed so that the continuance of the order was neither necessary nor appropriate.’
The Act says that anyone who is affected by the original order, will therefore be included in any decisions made with regards to the order being varied or discharged. It also states that the order’s status is only questionable if something had changed, for example the two people managed to re-establish their relationship, meaning that the order did not necessarily need to continue.
It is fairly common in domestic violence cases where an order is granted against one party, for the other party to want to re-kindle the relationship and have the order revoked. But if you are in this position, you should seek professional help – and not just act as if the order does not exist. If you need advice, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0845 200 3367 to be connected to the right person to help you in your area.