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. 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 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. Contact us for advice. If you believe you are in physical danger contact the police.
How can our harassment solicitors help?
Brett Wilson LLP has the specialist expertise to:
- Advise individuals and organisations on the various legal options open to them and the cost-benefit analysis of each route.
- Draft “cease and desist” letters to the perpetrators of harassment campaigns.
- In relation to online harassment, draft letters to publishers and hosting companies seeking the removal of offensive content.
- Make applications for interim injunctions where appropriate.
- Assist you with pursuing a claim for damages to compensate you for the harassment.
- Pursue additional claims for defamation, malicious falsehood, breach of confidence/misuse of private information and/or the breach of Data Protection Act 1998.
- Advise on the scope for making a Norwich Pharmacal application for the disclosure of information held by a third party relating to the authors of anonymous or pseudoanonymous material.
- Instruct experts where appropriate to assist in identifying the authors of anonymous or pseudoanonymous material.
- Advise on the scope for bringing representative proceedings to protect a group (e.g. a company’s workforce) which is being harassed.
We offer fixed-fee preliminary consultations. A consultation will help you understand the legal and practical issues relating to your case and allow you to make an informed decision about what action to take. These consultations are very popular and, from the feedback we get, clients find them very helpful. The cost of a consultation will depend on the factual and legal complexity of the matter and, in particular, how much paperwork you require us to consider ahead of the meeting. In relatively straightforward matters, the cost may be as low as £400 plus VAT.
Please note that we do not undertake civil litigation on a legal aid basis. Information on legal aid can be found at the Government’s benefits and credits website by clicking here.