Injunctions are simply orders of the court, which tell a person what they may, and often more importantly, what they may not do. A power of arrest can and often will be attached to an injunction.
Injunctions are a discretionary remedy, which are not granted as of right. They are an extreme measures and before granting an injunction, the court has to be satisfied that an injunction is appropriate and necessary under the given set of circumstances. They can be made without serving notice of the application on the other party, but this is likely to involve the applicant in giving an undertaking to the court to pay the respondent’s costs, if the application is ill founded and it is later found that an injunction was not necessary. Usually, an application is made to the county court for the area where the respondent resides, but certain injunctions are only available from the High Court.
Sometimes, rather than make an injunction, the court will accept an undertaking to the court from the respondent. A breach would then be a contempt of court and imprisonment would result if the undertaking was broken. However, if an injunction is broken, it will often be necessary to return to court in committal proceedings, and ask for the respondent to be committed to prison.
Domestic violence injunctions are dealt with separately in the Family Court..
The types of injunctions which may be available from the County Court are:
These are orders made under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which makes harassment a criminal as well as civil offence. As such, the police may intervene and arrest a person suspected of harassment. Commonly, these injunctions are used to prevent harassing behaviour by neighbours, former partners, family members, the media etc.
Harassment includes nuisance phone calls, stalking, threats, excessive noise etc. and any behaviour which causes you alarm or distress. The harassment has to have happened more than once. In the case of stalking, you must show the behaviour caused you to think that person was likely to use violence on you. In extreme cases, a Crown Court may sentence up to 5 years in prison. If the police are unwilling to assist, a private application can be made to the county court. A power of arrest can be attached if the initial order is broken, and the court may award damages for anxiety, distress, alarm and any financial loss.
Common law injunctions
These are sometimes called assault & trespass injunctions. Application can be made to the county court to stop somebody coming onto your property without your permission or assaulting you.
Under the Housing Act 1996, a local council or housing association has the power to apply for an injunction against any tenant who causes a nuisance or harassment. If an injunction order is made and subsequently broken, the offending tenant could be sent to prison. A power of arrest may be attached to an order.
These are made to prevent a respondent from removing property and assets from the jurisdiction of the court in order to prevent the applicant from making a claim against them.
Such orders are intended to allow an applicant to enter the home or workplace of a respondent and to search for documents or evidence that it is believed will be withheld.
An application can be made to the court to prevent somebody publishing something adverse about you.
If an injunction does not contain a power of arrest and is broken, what must I do?
You will have to apply back to the court which made the injunction and ask them to make an order committing the respondent to prison. They may then be arrested and brought before the court in committal proceedings.
From when does an injunction become effective?
An injunction will only take effect when it has been served on a respondent and they become aware of what the court has ordered. You should arrange personal service and have an affidavit of service prepared once you have obtained your injunction, so that there can be no doubt over service.
What is an undertaking?
This will be a promise to the court not to behave in a certain way or carry out to any actions. If the promise is broken, it will be a contempt of court, and an application can be made for committal to prison. A person giving an undertaking does not have to admit to any wrongdoing. As undertakings can be just as effective as an injunction order, they can be a good way of avoiding lengthy arguments over the facts of a case.