Contesting Intervention Orders under the Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2000 (VIC)

Our Litigation Partner, Pierre Johannessen, recently acted on behalf of 5 Respondents in associated Intervention Order Applications in Victoria.

The main purposes of the legislation are to:

  • protect the safety of victims of assault, sexual assault, harassment,
  • property damage or interference, stalking and serious threats
  • to promote and assist in the resolution of disputes through mediation where appropriate.

The Applications alleged that the Respondents had, individually and jointly, “stolen IP”, engaged in defamatory conduct and made verbal threats against the applicants.

In any Intervention Order Application, the Respondent has the opportunity to agree to stay away from the Applicant.  As Intervention Orders are civil matters, not criminal, an undertaking by the Respondent to stay away, not communicate or otherwise harass the Applicant is a very common outcome, giving peace of mind to the Applicant and Respondent in turn.  In Victoria, quite a large number of Intervention Order Applications are based on neighbourhood disputes, where those living in close proximity may develop disagreements in relation to fences or other local issues.

Relatively recently, the Intervention Order legislation incorporated elements from Stalking legislation, designed to combat both schoolyard bullying and general stalking behaviour.

In these 5 matters, however, this firm’s clients were adamant that not only had no prohibited conduct taken place by them, several of the clients had not even spoken to the Applicants in several years.

Pierre Johannessen successfully argued that the overwhelming majority of the Applicants’ grievances were in fact commercial in nature, and unrelated to the scope of the Intervention Order legislation, regardless of the truth of the claims.  It was further argued that the “evidence” provided by the Applicants did not address any of the potentially relevant claims of harassment or serious threats.

In Her Honour’s judgement, all 5 Applications were Struck Out, by reason of there being “no basis for (the) application”, and an Order for Costs made against the Applicants in respect of costs thrown away.