Harassment, whether it’s in person or online, can be extremely distressing and overwhelming.
We can help you to get the harassment to stop.
Harassment is defined as two or more incidents by the same person or group of people which causes you to feel distressed, humiliated or threatened and can take many forms, such as:
- Physical stalking;
- Unwanted phone calls, letters, emails or visits;
- Defamatory letters or emails to third parties; or
- Malicious or abusive online content.
Harassment is prohibited under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and is both a criminal and civil offence.
At SA Law, our specialist solicitors have significant experience protecting both individuals and organisations from harassment through civil proceedings, as well as defending civil harassment claims unjustly brought against individuals and/or organisations.
Although you are often harassed by someone you know, for example a neighbour or a colleague, with the rise of social media it is becoming more common for perpetrators to harass people anonymously. Our specialist solicitors can seek disclosure of information or instruct experts to identify anonymous users, so that you can pursue a harassment claim regardless.
If you are being harassed online, for example through Facebook or Twitter posts, then you may also have a potential claim for defamation.
The Equality Act 2010 protects you from being harassed at work and our specialist employment solicitors can assist you in bringing a claim against your employer and/or the perpetrator. For more information on our employment services for employees.
How we help you
There are various options that we can explore and assist you with to try to stop the harassment in the most appropriate and cost-effective manner, this can include:
- Drafting “cease and desist” letters to the perpetrator(s);
- Seeking the removal of offensive content from social media;
- Seeking the disclosure of information held by a third party relating to anonymous material; and/or
- Instructing experts to assist in identifying anonymous material.
If we are unable to resolve the dispute through correspondence, or it is not appropriate in the circumstances, then we can pursue your claim using more formal routes such as litigation and can assist you in obtaining an injunction.
Below we answer some commonly asked questions about harassment claims. If you would like further information, you can get in touch via live chat, by completing the form below, or contacting one of our dispute resolution team.
What should I do if I'm being harassed?
You should contact either the police or specialist solicitors to get the harassment to stop as soon as possible.
If you are being harassed, you should obtain and preserve any evidence you have and keep a log of the conduct you have experienced. This can include videos or audio recordings, relevant communication, or screenshots of relevant social media posts.
What is the time frame for bringing a claim?
Generally, you can bring a claim within six years from the date of harassment. However, you should have it resolved as soon as possible, and should note that any damages you intend to seek could be affected by any time delay.
What does an injunction do?
In these circumstances an injunction is an order to stop the perpetrator harassing you. This order will contain a penal notice which is a warning to obey the order or risk punishment by way of imprisonment, a fine or confiscation of assets. If the perpetrator’s behaviour continues than they would have committed a further criminal offence and can be prosecuted accordingly.
Can I claim damages?
You can seek damages from the preparator, which can include a sum for the distress and anxiety you have suffered.
You may also be able seek other financial loss, if they are connected to the harassment. For example, if your organisation has been harassed online and you have lost a customer as a direct result of the perpetrator’s posts then this may be a recoverable loss.
Do I have to tell the perpetrator that I'm bringing a claim against them?
Not necessarily – if it is appropriate then you can bring a harassment claim on a “without notice” basis without informing the other side (i.e. the perpetrator).
A without notice application does have a higher threshold to meet, as generally an order should not be made against a party without it having an opportunity to be heard. You will therefore need to act promptly and show that the circumstances are serious enough to justify not informing the perpetrator.
This is a more expensive route to pursue then on an “on notice” claim (i.e. with informing the perpetrator), as it is more complex and has additional obligations but we can advise you on the merits, prospects and costs of such a claim.
What are my funding options?
You should first check your current insurance policies to see if you have any legal expenses cover that might pay legal costs in this situation.
If you do not have legal expenses cover through an existing insurance policy, we may be able to offer or advise you on alternative funding options to help you pursue a claim in a cost-effective manner. We will need to assess the merits of your claim to determine which funding option is the most appropriate in the circumstances.
We provide our clients with information regarding costs from the outset and throughout so that you can have peace of mind and will advise you on the costs risk of proceeding with a case, including the prospect of recovering your costs from the from your opponent.