Applying for a protection order in a civil matter

Under the Code of Civil Procedure, the Superior Court can make an order to protect a person whose life, health or safety is threatened, in particular in a situation that involves violence.

You have the right to be protected from the actions of another person, even if he or she has not committed a crime. In some situations in which you believe that your life, your physical or mental health or your safety is threatened by another person, you may still be hesitant about filing a complaint with the police. In such a case you can apply to a judge of the Superior Court for a protection order in civil matters.

An organization or another person may apply for the order on your behalf, with your consent or with authorization from the court.

The order may be used to prevent another person from

  • injuring you;
  • injuring your spouse or child;
  • damaging your property;
  • damaging your home or land;
  • broadcasting private content (such as a video or photograph) without your consent.

The order can also require another person to

  • cease behaviour that is considered threatening, such as harassment, intimidation or psychological violence;
  • refrain from certain actions, such as asking you for money or forcing you to marry;
  • respect an obligation imposed by the court for your protection, for example requiring the other person to be accompanied by a third party during any visit.

In some cases, the protection order may include conditions. For example, the court may order the person who is a threat to you to

  • hand over his or her weapons to the police;
  • refrain from communicating with you;
  • refrain from giving information about you to a third party;
  • stay away from your home and any place you frequent, such as your workplace.

The court may, in addition, order the other person to return property to you or allow you to collect your personal belongings.

If you are housed by an organization, such as a seniors’ home or healthcare establishment, the court may require the other person to visit you only during the organization’s visiting hours, with supervision from a caseworker.

Procedure

The procedure for applying for a protection order is quite formal, because the application must be made to the court. If you are not represented by a lawyer, you must complete an application form that describes the facts of the situation and the action you are requesting from the court. Since you must prove the situation you have described and its negative impact on your life, health or safety, your application must include relevant documents such as a sworn statement from a witness or a medical report.

Your application must be filed at the office of the Superior Court and be served by a bailiff on the person whose behaviour is a threat to you.

Processing time

A protection order in civil matters can be obtained quickly, and the court may also issue it as a matter or urgency. In the latter case, you must demonstrate the urgency of the situation.

You can also apply to the court for an interlocutory injunction to end the threatening behaviour until the court has issued a permanent order.

Period of validity

A protection order is valid for the period determined by the court or for a maximum period of 3 years. However, an order issued as a matter of urgency is valid for 10 days.

Non-compliance with a protection order

If the person to whom an order applies fails to comply with it, you must file a new application with the court to have the person punished for contempt of court. You are responsible for proving non-compliance.

The other person may then be sentenced to

  • a fine;
  • community work; or
  • imprisonment for up to one year.

For more information about the steps you must take to apply for a protection order, contact the community justice centre in your region.

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