The orders are regularly issued in cases of ‘domestic violence,’ and are intended to protect persons from harassment.

However, life goes on, and it’s not uncommon for old friendships to resurface. If this occurs before an order is discharged, the person who is the subject of the order faces a high danger of committing a criminal offence punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

In other circumstances, an order may have outdated restrictions, such as geographic restrictions.

Regardless of the reason, there is a mechanism for changing or cancelling the order.

Is legal aid available?

A person who is subject to the order may be eligible for legal aid, but only after a thorough review.

We also provide a private client service at a reasonable cost.

Who makes the application?

The Act states that:

‘The prosecutor, the defendant or any other person mentioned in the order may apply to the court which made the order for it to be varied or discharged by a further order.’

This is really important as it allows the person who is protected by the order to support or even initiate any application to vary or discharge.

What are the criteria?

There aren’t any statutory criteria for the court to apply here, but case law sets out the following approach for us:

‘The only question on an application or further application, under section 5(4) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, to discharge

[or vary] a restraining order made under that section, was whether something had changed so that the continuance of the order was neither necessary nor appropriate.’