British Courts Granted Greater Authority to Issue Restraining Orders
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 4:11 PM

The Home Office of the British Government announced a new rule that will expand the authority of British courts in issuing restraining orders beginning September 30, 2009. Announcement of the new rule was accompanied by the National Domestic Violence Delivery Plan 2008/9, a report documenting Britain’s improvements in domestic violence policy and highlighting strategies for future action to prevent domestic violence.

Currently, courts can only issue restraining orders in cases where an abuser has been convicted of “harassment” or putting someone "in fear of violence.” The new rule will allow courts to issue restraining orders against abusers who are convicted or acquitted of any offense, ensuring immediate protection of victims and eliminating the need for a separate civil action.

Prior improvements to restraining order protections include Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004, which expanded the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Section 12 allowed the imposition of restraining orders in cases where the defendant was convicted or acquitted of any offense if doing so was necessary to prevent the future harassment of a named person. Section 12 also established the right of persons named in the restraining order to appear in court when an application is filed to vary the terms of or terminate an order.

Compiled from: Restraining Order Powers to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence,” U.K. Home Office Press Office (21 August 2009).