Are you being harassed? Do you need it to stop?
Harassment is a “course of conduct” which causes the victim(s) to suffer alarm, anxiety and/or distress and which the perpetrator knows – or ought to know – amounts to harassment.
The legal threshold is quite high. It is behaviour which – taken as a whole – is oppressive, rather than simply annoying or irritating. A “course of conduct” means two or more events, although in most cases there will be a long history of harassment.
Harassment takes many guises. It might involve a combination of physical stalking, online trolling, unwanted phone calls, letters, texts and/or emails.
The conduct might include the malicious publication of abusive content online and/or a more general campaign of hatred. In many instances the perpetrator will be a former partner or an embittered ex-employee. Harassment may be committed against a group of people (e.g. a workforce or a family).
Harassment is both a civil ’cause of action’ and a criminal offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
A civil claim for harassment is brought by a claimant (someone who claims to be a victim). If successful the defendant may be ordered to pay damages for distress and anxiety and other loss.
A court can grant an injunction prohibiting further harassment. If this is breached an application can be made for the defendant to be committed to prison.
Where harassment involves the publication of material online or communication of information to third parties by email or letter, there may be concurrent claims for defamation and/or the misuse of private information.
What to do if you are being harassed
If you are being harassed you should obtain and preserve evidence. Print off relevant communications and keep a log/diary of the conduct. Do not engage with someone who is harassing you beyond making it clear that you want the conduct to stop.
If you need legal advice contact us for advice. If you believe you are in physical danger contact the police.