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Non-Molestation Orders: Strict Requirements to Apply

Our People - Anna Johnson
14 June, 2023

Non-molestation orders serve as a vital legal tool to safeguard individuals from violence or harassment. These court-issued injunctions can be sought against various parties, such as current or former partners, family members, or cohabitants.

It is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the strict requirements and application process surrounding non-molestation orders, as outlined in the Family Law Act 1996.

This article sheds light on the key aspects of non-molestation orders, including their purpose, prohibited behaviours, and the importance of meeting the necessary criteria when applying for them.

The Significance of Non-Molestation Orders

Non-molestation orders play a pivotal role in protecting individuals from abusive or harmful conduct. By seeking these court orders, victims can ensure their safety and prevent further instances of violence or harassment. Understanding the purpose and potential impact of non-molestation orders is crucial in addressing and resolving harmful situations effectively.

Key Provisions of Non-Molestation Orders

A non-molestation order commonly states that a respondent must not:

  • Use or threaten violence
  • Intimidate, harass, or pester
  • Contact those involved directly or indirectly
  • Damage, attempt to damage or threaten to damage property
  • Instruct or encourage another person to do any of the above

A non-molestation order typically encompasses specific provisions that the respondent must adhere to strictly. These provisions aim to prevent any form of violence, intimidation, harassment, or contact that may cause distress or harm to the applicant. It also prohibits any attempts to damage property or influence others to engage in such behaviours. Familiarising yourself with these provisions is essential for both applicants and respondents involved in non-molestation order proceedings.

The Application Process

To initiate the process of obtaining a non-molestation order, individuals must complete an FL401 form available on the official gov.uk website. This form serves as the official application and provides the necessary details for the court to assess the request. Understanding the application process, including the required documentation and the importance of presenting accurate and compelling evidence, significantly increases the chances of a successful outcome.

Strict Criteria for Non-Molestation Orders

In the recent case of DS v AC [2023], Mrs Justice Lieven DBE set out to remind lawyers of the ‘very strict criteria’ for making non-molestation orders. The courts have seen a sharp rise in applications for non-molestation orders since the pandemic, many of which are made without notice to the respondent. The courts consider that non-molestation orders made without notice should only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Lieven J, in her judgement, considers that far too many applications are made without notice when there is no basis to do so, i.e. without significant risk.

In the case of DS v AC, by the time the application had been made, the conduct alleged by the applicant had stopped. In this case, the relationship had ended badly and an excessive number of texts and emails were exchanged, some of which were angry. Lieven J was clear that whilst there does not have to be a positive intent to molest, personal and subjective distress does not alone justify the making of an order and the conduct has to be of a nature or degree that justifies court intervention. 

Non-molestation orders serve as a vital legal instrument in protecting individuals from violence and harassment. By understanding the strict requirements and the application process, applicants can navigate the legal landscape more effectively. It is crucial to recognize that non-molestation orders should be sought based on genuine risk and the need for court intervention, ensuring that these orders are utilised judiciously to provide the necessary protection for those in need.

If you need any help or advice on non-molestation orders or have any questions regarding domestic abuse, please feel free to contact our office. Our dedicated team of Family Lawyers is here to provide guidance and assistance. You can reach us by phone at 020 8492 2290 to speak directly with a member of our team or email us at sols@gnlaw.co.uk.

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