In Singapore, the well-being and safety of individuals are paramount, especially in cases involving domestic/ or family violence which also include harassment. To provide legal protection for victims of such situations, the Family Justice Courts can issue a personal protection order (PPO). A personal protection order is a court order that imposes specific conditions to safeguard the victim from further harm or harassment by the perpetrator. Understanding the conditions of a personal protection order is crucial for both victims seeking protection and individuals navigating the legal system. Let’s delve into the key aspects of personal protection order conditions in Singapore.

  • Scope of Protection

A personal protection order typically outlines various forms of protection tailored to the circumstances of each case.  While in most cases the common form of family violence involves physical violence, the scope of protection provided by a personal protection order may also extend beyond physical safety to encompass emotional and psychological well-being. This includes protection against threats, verbal abuse, and any form of intimidation that may cause distress or fear to the victim.

The court also considers the specific circumstances of each case when determining the conditions of the personal protection order to ensure comprehensive protection tailored to the needs of the victim and any other individuals at risk. Such protection may also extend to family members or other individuals specified in the order who may also be at risk.

  • Personal Protection Order

The most common type of protection order granted by the Family Justice Courts is a personal protection order pursuant to Section 65 of the Women’s Charter 1961 (“Women’s Charter”) which provides that the court may make a protection order restraining the person against whom the order is made from using family violence against another family member. 

The court grants a personal protection order where the court is satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, that family violence has been committed or is likely to be committed, and that it is necessary for the protection of the family member. 

The condition(s) imposed in a personal protection order is targeted at the perpetrator and restrains or prohibits him from committed acts that would amount to family violence. This may include acts of violence that causes hurt or use of abusive language that would cause mental anguish. 

Further, a personal protection order may also restrict or prevent a perpetrator from indirectly causing the commission of family violence against the protected person by preventing the perpetrator from inciting or assisting any other person to commit family violence against the protected person. 

  • Expedited Order

In more serious or time sensitive cases, an expedited order may be granted to the applicant while waiting to formally hear parties on the application for a personal protection order under Section 65 of the Women’s Charter. 

While an expedited order is a temporary order, it is still necessary in cases where there is an imminent danger of family violence being committed. Similar to a personal protection order, an expedited order restrains or prohibits the perpetrator from committing acts of family violence. 

Section 66 of the Women’s Charter provides for an expedited order (EO) where upon an application for a personal protection order under Section 65 of the Women’s Charter, the court is satisfied that there is imminent danger of family violence being committed against the application, the court may make the protection order (i.e., an expedited order).

An expedited order may be granted even though the summons (i.e., court order directing the individual to attend court) has not been served on the perpetrator or has not been served on the respondent withing a reasonable time before the hearing of the application, or the summons requires the respondent to appear at some time or place. 

This allows the victim to obtain immediate protection, although an expedited order expires after 28 days from the date the order is made or the commencement of the hearing for an order under Section 66 of the Women’s Charter, the court may extend the period of protection.

  • Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO)

A domestic exclusion order is a court order that excludes or restricts the perpetrator from entering the premises (i.e., the family home or shared residence) or part of the premises such as the victim’s bedroom. 

Section 65(5)(a) of the Women’s Charter provides that where the court is satisfied on a balance of probabilities that it is necessary for the protection or personal safety of the applicant, the court may grant the right of exclusive occupation to any personal person of the shared residence or a specified part of the shared residence by excluding the perpetrator from the entire shared residence or only a specified part. 

  • Counselling Order (CGO)

A counselling order need not be applied by the victim or the perpetrator, the court is empowered to make a counselling order for the perpetrator, the victim and/or the applicant to attend counselling or any other programme administered by the relevant agency. These programs aim to address the root causes of the perpetrator’s behaviour and facilitate behavioural change to prevent further harm to the victim or others.

In the event that a counselling order has been made, the parties are eventually required to attend a Court Review for the court to assess the progress of the counselling when ordered. 

Section 65(5)(b) of the Women’s Charter provides that the court may make a counselling order by referring the person against whom the order is made or the protected person or both, or their children to attend counselling. 

  • Duration and Variation

The duration of a personal protection order varies depending on the circumstances of each case. In making the relevant order, the court takes into account the relevant factors and determine the appropriate period of protection necessary for the victims. 

Whenever necessary, parties (either the applicant or the perpetrator) may make the relevant application to court to either vary, suspend, or revoke the protection order. Section 67 of the Women’s Charter provides that the court has the power to vary, suspend or revoke a protection order upon an application made by the applicant or the person against whom the order is made.

Conclusion

Personal Protection Orders (PPOs) play a crucial role in safeguarding individuals from domestic or family violence which include causing hurt, threat of causing hurt, harassment, and intimidation in Singapore. The conditions of a personal protection orders in Singapore are designed to provide comprehensive protection tailored to the specific needs of each case, ensuring the safety and well-being of victims and their families. Understanding these conditions is essential for victims seeking legal protection and for perpetrators navigating the legal consequences of their actions. By adhering to the conditions of a personal protection order, individuals can contribute to creating a safer and more supportive environment for everyone in the family.

 

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