A court order is a ruling by a court, usually made by a judge or panel of judges, that often declares that something must be done or that something should not be done. As it is an order from a court, the order carries the force of law, and a failure to comply with a court order can often result in a contempt of court charge, or a variety of punishments.
Court orders are used in a very wide variety of cases, from divorce and family law, to housing and immigration, criminal and domestic violence matters, anti-social behaviour and financial matters and debt. Certain court orders also provide significant protection for those in their receipt.
Court of protection orders
The Court of Protection is a court that makes decisions and appoints deputies in order to allow them to act on behalf of others who may be unable to make decisions themselves about personal health, finance or welfare. The Court of Protection was created by the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
The Court of Protection grants orders such as Lasting Power of Attorney orders, which appoints someone to make decisions on behalf of another. Such orders can be made to cover health and welfare, or property and financial affairs. It is possible to apply for a single order to cover all matters.
Court of Protection orders are designed to protect individuals who are deemed unable to help themselves.
Court orders in domestic violence cases
Court orders can also be used to protect individuals who are victims of domestic violence. Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPOs) are court orders that can provide emergency protection to victims of domestic violence by barring the perpetrator of the violence from going to the victim’s home or attempting to contact the victim.
A DVPO can be issued to someone over the age of 18, and is issued by a magistrates’ court in circumstances when the court feels the order is necessary to protect the victim. A DVPO lasts a minimum of 14 days, and a maximum of 28 days. If the order is broken, the perpetrator can face up to six weeks in prison.
Court orders for harassment
Harassment and stalking are criminal offences, created by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 respectively. Other statutory laws creating offences relating to harassment include the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the Malicious Communications Act 1988.
Restraining orders are court orders drafted to ensure that individuals are protected from harassment and stalking. Examples of clauses included in a restraining order include banning direct or indirect contact, avoiding the boundary of certain premises, and avoiding all contact including contact online.
Again, a breach of a restraining order is a criminal offence, and can result in the individual going to prison, and being subjected to a more restrictive court order as a result.