• Robert Spicer

Protection From Harassment

Section 1(2) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 states, in summary, that a person whose course of conduct is in question ought to know that it amounts to harassment of another if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct amounted to harassment of the other.

In Winfield and Jolowicz, Tort, the author states that this subsection would cover conduct directed at a victim which the defendant regards as a joke but which a reasonable person would regard as going beyond that.

In the case of S & D Property Investments Ltd v Nisbet and French [2009] EWHC 1726, High Court, Nicol J found that conduct had crossed the threshold of gravity necessary to amount to harassment in that it was oppressive and unacceptable. The victim was entitled to damages for anxiety under the Act of 1997. Damages under the Act could be awarded without the need to prove psychiatric harm and without the need for medical evidence. Evidence of anxiety could come from witnesses and from the victim himself. The appropriate sum here was £7000.

The 1997 Act may be useful in workplace harassment cases where the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 cannot be used, for example where the time limit for the employment tribunal application has expired.

It is important to note that the definition of harassment in the 1997 Act (there is no clear definition) is different from that of the legislation which applies to employment. In harassment cases, it is important to analyse the different provisions and to decide which is more appropriate

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