In cases of family violence, protection orders such as a Personal Protection Order (“PPO”) and an Expedited Order (“EO”) are legal documents ordered by the court on the application of the victim or on behalf of the victim, if the victim is below 21 years old or incapacitated (the “Applicant”), to prevent acts of family violence.

However, there are cases where the person, for whom the Personal Protection Order is taken out against (the “Respondent”), refused or failed to comply with the terms of the PPO and thus resulting in a breach of the PPO. In this article, we will explore what the victims of family violence can do to enforce the PPO against the Respondent to ensure the Applicant’s safety. 

 

Understanding Breach of Protection Orders

For PPOs, section 65(7) of the Women’s Charter 1961 (“Women’s Charter”) provides that where a Respondent breaches the protection order by not abiding by the terms of the PPO, the court may make one or more of the following orders: 

  1. Domestic Exclusion Order (“DEO”); 
  2. Counselling Order (“CO”); and/or 
  3. Any other orders that the court may deem appropriate and necessary. 

Additionally, it is a criminal offence for the Respondent to wilfully breach the protection order. Under section 65(8) of the Women’s Charter, the Respondent may be liable to a fine of not more than $2,000 or to an imprisonment of a term not more than 6 months or to both, in the event that the Respondent wilfully breaches a protection order. 

Steps Victims Can Take

  1. Document the Violation: Keep detailed records of any instances of breach of the protection order, including dates, times, and descriptions of the violations. Documentation may include police report(s), medical report(s), text messages, photographs, or witness statements that corroborate the violation.
  2. Make a Police Report: As mentioned above, a breach of the Personal Protection Order is a criminal offence and may result in the prosecution of the perpetrator. Where there is a breach of the Personal Protection Order, victims should immediately lodge a police report, either online or at the nearest police post. Once the offender is apprehended, the police will decide whether to investigate and/or charge the perpetrator for the breach of the Personal Protection Order. 
  3. Magistrate’s Complaint: In the event that the police decide not to investigate the matter or prosecute the perpetrator for the breach of the Personal Protection Order, victims may file a Magistrate’s Complaint where the Magistrate, based on the evidence presented, decides whether to direct the police to investigate further or issue a summons to the perpetrator for private prosecution. 
  4. Enforcement of the Order: Law enforcement officers have the authority to enforce protection orders and take appropriate action to ensure compliance with the terms of the order. This may include arresting the respondent or taking other measures to protect the victim.
  5. Seek Legal Assistance: If the original protection order becomes unworkable, victims may consider varying the protection order and should consider consulting with a lawyer who specialises in family law, including family violence matters. A family lawyer will be able to provide legal advice and guidance on the options available in cases of breach of the protection order and advocate on their behalf in court proceedings if the need arises. 
  6. Alternative Accommodation: Victims may consider finding a temporary safe place such as with friends or family while pursuing the appropriate action against the perpetrator. If the victims do not have anyone else to turn to, they may approach a Family Service Centre, a Protection Specialist Centre or the Police if they wish to seek temporary shelter at a crisis shelter.  

 

Conclusion

Breach of protection orders can have serious implications for the safety and well-being of victims of family violence, including other family members. By taking proactive steps to document violations, lodge a police report, seek legal assistance, or seek temporary shelter, victims can assert their rights, protect their safety, and seek legal recourse against perpetrators of breach of protection orders. 

Victims need to know that they are not alone and that there are resources and legal remedies available to support them in their journey towards safety and justice. If you or someone you know is experiencing a breach of a protection order, do not hesitate to reach out for help and support.

If you need help with legal matters

Have a question or need more information? Just drop us a line!