Communtity Law Manual | Harassment & bullying | Opposing (“defending”) an application for a restraining order

Harassment in the community: Getting protection under the Harassment Act

Opposing (“defending”) an application for a restraining order

How can I oppose an application that’s been made against me?

District Court Rules 2014, rule 20.40

If someone has applied for a restraining order against you and you want to oppose it, you (you’re called “the respondent”) must give the court a notice of defence and a sworn affidavit, at least five working days before the hearing. You also have to give these documents to the “applicant” (the person who applied for the order) at least five working days before the hearing (this is called “serving” the documents on the applicant).

At the court hearing, both the applicant and you will give evidence and can be cross-examined. The judge will consider both sides’ evidence and then decide whether to grant the restraining order. The process at the hearing is explained below.

If you don’t oppose the application for a restraining order, the judge can decide whether to grant an order based only on the evidence presented by the applicant.

The “lawful purpose” defence

Harassment Act 1997, s 17

If you prove that what you did was for a “lawful purpose”, your behaviour won’t amount to “harassment” and a restraining order won’t be made against you.

B v Reardon [2000] DCR 575

If what you did consisted of posting comments about a person online, you could possibly have a successful “lawful purpose” defence if what you claimed was true or was your honest opinion.

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