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Community life

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; B v Reardon [2000] DCR 575

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.

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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Harassment and bullying

Where to go for more support

Community Law

www.communitylaw.org.nz

Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Victims Information

www.victimsinfo.govt.nz

Phone: 0800 650 654
Email: victimsinfo@justice.govt.nz

This is the website of the government’s “Victims Centre”. The site provides links to a range of services available to help victims deal with the practical and emotional effects of the crime, at each stage of the criminal and youth justice process.

Human Rights Commission

www.hrc.co.nz

Phone: 0800 496 877
Email: infoline@hrc.co.nz

The Human Rights Commission website has information about your rights if you’re sexually or racially harassed:

“Sexual harassment” guide

Racial harassment

Harassment and bullying in the workplace

www.worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/bullying-prevention-toolbox

The Worksafe New Zealand website has information and guidance about workplace bullying:

YouthLaw Aotearoa

www.youthlaw.co.nz

Phone: 0800 UTHLAW (0800 884 529)
Email: nzyouthlaw@gmail.com

YouthLaw provides free legal advice for young people throughout New Zealand. Their website provides great information for young people about the law around harassment and bullying.

Ministry of Justice

Applying for a Harmful Digital Communications Order

This has information about applying to a District Court judge for a “take down” order or other type of action when you’ve suffered serious emotional distress because of cyberbullying:
www.justice.govt.nz/courts/civil/harmful-digital-communications/applying-for-a-harmful-digital-communications-order/

NetSafe

Help with online bullying, abuse and harassment

www.netsafe.org.nz

Go to this website for free and confidential help if you’ve been bullied, abused or harassed online. NetSafe has been appointed by the government to be a free information service and complaints agency under the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

NZ Police

www.police.govt.nz/about-site/other-sites/no-bully-website

This police webpage lists a number of phone counselling services and websites that can help.

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