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Non-harassment orders in domestic abuse cases

Non-harassment orders, covered by section 8 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, are an alternative to interdict orders where there have been at least two incidents of harassment.

This content applies to Scotland

Domestic abuse - non harassment orders

These orders will be of use to applicants who cannot obtain powers of arrest (which are attached to matrimonial interdicts or to interdicts obtained to prevent abuse).

Any person can apply for a non-harassment order. It is a remedy available to married people, civil partners, or cohabitees (whether heterosexual, gay or lesbian). It is also available to deal with harassment between parents and children or harassment from previous partners or strangers.

A non-harassment order will specify the behaviour from which the perpetrator is to refrain. Some sheriffs will grant a non-harassment order at the same time as an interdict but in such a case the two orders cannot prevent the same behaviour. Other sheriffs will grant an interim interdict at a first hearing and continue the case with a second hearing to allow the perpetrator to be heard. If the sheriff is satisfied, the interim interdict can then be replaced by a non-harassment order. A non-harassment order can be granted to prevent behaviour, such as repeated telephone calls, which may not support an application for interdict. [1]

Breach of a non-harassment order is a criminal offence. Enforcement of the order is not the responsibility of the applicant but of the police and the procurator fiscal. This takes the decision making from the applicant but also removes the burden and expense of raising numerous court actions from the individual.

Last updated: 17 February 2020


  • [1]

    Murdoch v Murdoch, 1973 SLT (Notes) 13 where a husband was not interdicted from making phone calls to his wife because that was not of itself a civil wrong.