The safety and well-being of individuals are paramount, and the legal system in Singapore provides avenues for protection against harassment, abuse, or violence committed in a family context through the issuance of Personal Protection Orders in Singapore. However, understanding the process and intricacies involved in obtaining a Personal Protection Order in Singapore is crucial for those seeking recourse against threats to their safety. Here, we delve into important insights about obtaining a Personal Protection Order in Singapore.

What is a Personal Protection Order?

A Personal Protection Order is a legal document issued by the Family Justice Courts to safeguard individuals from harassment, violence, or threats of violence committed by a family member. Under section 64 of the Women’s Charter 1961 (“Women’s Charter”), a family member includes: 

  1. A spouse or former spouse; 
  2. A child of the victim (including an adopted child or stepchild);
  3. Parents or parents-in-law;
  4. Siblings; or 
  5. Any other relative of the victim or an incapacitated person who the court views should be regarded as a member of the family of the person. 

A Personal Protection Order in Singapore serves as a means of protection for victims against acts of family violence, granting them legal recourse and assistance in ensuring their safety. A Personal Protection Order restrains the person who committed the family violence (“Perpetrator”) from committing further acts of family violence. Family violence is defined under section 64 of the Women’s Charter as follows: 

  1. willfully or knowingly placing, or attempting to place, a family member in fear of hurt; 
  2. causing hurt to a family member by such an act which is known or ought to have been known would result in hurt; 
  3. wrongfully confining or restraining a family member against his or her will; or 
  4. causing continual harassment with intent to cause or knowing that it is likely to cause anguish to a family member.

However, it is worth noting that family violence does not include any lawful force used in self-defence, or for the purposes of discipline towards a child below 21 years old. 

Requirements of a Personal Protection Order

According to section 65(1) of the Women’s Charter, before the court may grant a Personal Protection Order to restrain the Perpetrator from using family violence, individuals must meet the following two requirements, the court must be satisfied on a balance of probabilities that: 

  1. one or more acts of family violence have been committed against a family member; and 
  2. a Personal Protection Order is necessary for the protection of that family member. 

Initiating the Process

The process of obtaining a Personal Protection Order in Singapore typically begins with filing an application with the Family Justice Courts. Applicants should seek legal advice from a family lawyer in Singapore or assistance from relevant support services to navigate the process effectively. The application would require the following information and documents: 

  1. Last and past incident(s) of family violence; 
  2. The nature of the relationship between the applicant and the Perpetrator; 
  3. Other relevant details such as the family members involved in the incident(s); 
  4. The applicant’s request (i.e., a Personal Protection Order only or with other orders such as a Domestic Exclusion Order); and 
  5. Police report(s) and/or medical report(s). 

Expedited Order

In cases where there is a serious and immediate threat to the safety of the applicant, the court may grant an Expedited Order that temporarily restrains the Perpetrator from committing family violence. Section 66 of the Women’s Charter provides for when the court may grant an Expedited Order and the conditions are as follows: 

  1. Upon the application for a protection order under section 65 of the Women’s Charter; 
  2. The court is satisfied that there is an imminent danger of family violence being committed against the applicant; 
  3. The court may make an Expedited Order despite not fulfilling certain procedural requirements with regard to the application for a protection order. 

An Expedited Order grants temporary protection against the Perpetrator until the commencement of the hearing of the Personal Protection Order application or 28 days after the date of the Expedited Order is granted. 

Court Proceedings

Upon receiving the application for a Personal Protection Order in Singapore, the Family Justice Courts will schedule a court hearing to review the case. During the proceedings, both parties will have the opportunity to present their arguments and evidence before a judge. The court will assess the merits of the case, consider the evidence presented, and determine whether a Personal Protection Order is necessary for the protection of the family member.

Conditions of a Personal Protection Orders 

If the court decides to grant a Personal Protection Order, it will specify the terms and conditions aimed at protecting the applicant from further family violence. These conditions may include restraining the Perpetrator from contacting or approaching the applicant, prohibiting them from entering certain premises, or requiring them to undergo counselling or therapy sessions.

Breach of a Personal Protection Orders

Violating the terms of a Personal Protection Order is an offence and can result in legal consequences for the Perpetrator. Individuals who breach a Personal Protection Order in Singapore may face criminal charges, including fines or imprisonment. Both parties need to adhere to the conditions stipulated in the Personal Protection Orders to ensure the safety and well-being of all parties involved.

Seeking Support

As with any family-related legal proceedings, obtaining a Personal Protection Order in Singapore can be a challenging and emotionally taxing process for victims of harassment or violence. Individuals must seek support from family, friends, or support organizations throughout the process. Additionally, professional counselling and legal assistance from family layers can provide invaluable guidance and advocacy to help individuals navigate legal proceedings and protect their rights effectively.

Conclusion

Obtaining a Personal Protection Order in Singapore is a vital step towards safeguarding one’s personal safety and seeking recourse against acts of family violence. By understanding the requirements for a protection order, process and procedures, and accessing the necessary support, individuals can assert their rights and work towards ensuring their safety and well-being in challenging circumstances.

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