Protection from Harassment Act 1997: Civil Claims Costs Recovery
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What is the Protection from Harassment Act 1997?
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 was legislated to protect individuals from conduct which amounts to harassment, as harassment is a criminal offence. Harassment includes stalking, bullying, media invasion and various other behaviours of this type. An individual could be found guilty of harassing another person if they were to pursue a course of conduct which amounted to harassment, as set out in legislation. They should be aware that their behaviour amounts to this.
It should be noted that it is not harassment if the individual has been pursued for the purpose of preventing crime.
The reasonable person test could be applied when deciding whether behaviour amounts to harassment. Thus, the statute states that harassment will be found if “a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct amounted to harassment”.
The legislation outlines the remedies that can be given by Courts in England and Wales when harassment has occurred.
Punishments for Harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997
When a person is found guilty of an indictable offence of harassment under Section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, they will be imprisoned for a period not exceeding five years. For summary convictions, imprisonment will not exceed six months. Opposingly, the perpetrator could have to pay “a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale”. An individual may be punished through the use of both of the aforementioned.
When a person has been acquitted of harassment, but the Court feels it is still appropriate to grant an injunction, the Court can have an order made under section 5A of the 1997 Act. Courts tend to do this when they deem that the individual requires protection, despite the acquittal.
If an injunction is granted by the Court, an individual must follow its requirements. If they fail to do so, and do not provide a reasonable excuse for breaking the requirements, they could be liable on conviction on indictment of a prison term not exceeding five years.
Fear of Violence Offences under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997
Section 4 of the 1997 Act governs the offence of putting people in the fear of violence.
If an individual is found guilty of this offence, they will be liable “on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or a fine”. For a summary conviction, the perpetrator will be imprisoned “for a term not exceeding six months, or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum”.
Costs Recovery for Civil Claims for Harassment
If civil litigation has taken place (which may follow criminal proceedings and any findings made), the unsuccessful party will be liable to pay the successful party’s incurred costs. Under Part 44 of the Civil Procedure Rules, the Court will have discretion over which costs are to be awarded.
To commence the process of costs recovery, an order must be received from the Court. However, if one party has discontinued proceedings or settlement has occurred via the acceptance of a Part 36 offer, the recovery for costs can commence automatically. Thus, an order does not need to be sought.
In matters that do not fall into the above categories, the Court will either order Detailed Assessment or Summary Assessment of Costs. The latter occurs in Court, usually at a final hearing, and the judge will decide a definitive figure which covers all of the costs. The former is a bespoke costs procedure which consists of the completion of different actions.
The first step in the Detailed Assessment procedure is to consult a Costs Draftsman or Costs Lawyer and to provide them with your file of papers. This could be in paper or electronic form and will highlight all of the incurred costs to the draftsman.
Once they have received the information, the draftsman will be able to prepare the Bill of Costs. This document will itemise the receiving party’s incurred costs, such as solicitors’ fees and disbursements.
The bill will be served alongside a Notice of Commencement. This document will provide a date by which the Points of Dispute must be served by. If the matter has not settled and the Defendant has failed to provide their Points of Dispute by this date, a Default Costs Certificate will be prepared and applied for. This will enforce the paying party to pay the full amount of the Bill of Costs.
Points of Dispute if filed allow the paying party to dispute any areas of the Bill of Costs which they do not agree with. For example, the paying party could dispute the proportionality between the amount of costs and the complexity/length of the matter.
The receiving party can respond to this document in Replies to the Points of Dispute. This provides an opportunity to defend any costs which the paying party disagree with.
At this time in the Detailed Assessment Procedure, it is hoped that the matter will have settled. Although, on more complex matters, a Court hearing may be necessary.
For lower value matters, a Provisional Assessment Hearing will take place on paper. Alternatively, in cases regarding large amounts of costs, a Detailed Assessment Hearing will be necessary. This takes place in person, in Court. At this hearing, the judge will decide the amount of costs to be recovered.
How can ARC Costs assist?
At ARC Costs, we have developed a knowledgeable team of Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers who can be relied upon to deliver expert legal costs services.
The team can prepare a number of costing instruments such as Bills of Costs, Points of Dispute, Replies to the Points of Dispute and Costs Budgets. All of these documents are always prepared comprehensively and to the highest standard.
Furthermore, our Costs Lawyers, who have a right to audience, can advocate for our clients in Court if a hearing is required.
To find out more about how we can help you recover the costs for your civil claim for harassment, please contact us at email@example.com or 01204 397302.
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