Handling of a restraining order in the District Court

In the District Court an application for a restraining order is handled urgently. Like in a criminal case, the matter is handled at a trial, where the account given of the matter is examined and both parties as well as witnesses are heard.

When the District Court issues the order, it always assesses the danger of a crime or harassment case by case. As grounds it uses the circumstances, the person's own experience of a threat as well as the testimony of possible witnesses.

An act of violence that has already taken place can be considered a serious ground, but it is not a prerequisite for an order. Also when a person who feels himself/herself threatened, is harassed for example near his/her home, at his/her work or in public places with the purpose of threatening or nuisance for example by following the person without justification, all this can be sufficient grounds to issuing a restraining order. Also harassment over the phone, by letter or in another way may, when continued, result in the imposition of a restraining order.

Stricter prerequisites of an inside-the-family restraining order
Because an obligation to leave one's home involves stronger interference with the rights of a person than an ordinary restraining order, the prerequisites for imposing an inside-the-family restraining order are stricter than those of an ordinary restraining order. The order may be imposed only to prevent a crime on the life, health or liberty of a person or to avert a threat thereof, but not if the case involves crime on or harassment of peace. In addition, what is required is that the likelihood of a crime referred to above would be greater if the order is not imposed.

Sometimes it may be difficult to prove a threat. If the other party does not admit the harassment, it would be good in order to prove it if the harassment could also be noticed by an outsider. Earlier contacts with the police or social workers will support your case. Accounts of the threat may include doctor's certificates, written messages or technical recordings as well as testimony by witnesses, for example, by neighbours or co-workers.

Legal aid can be provided by public legal aid attorneys, advocates and other lawyers licensed to assist clients in trials for legal assistance. The legal aid office will tell you if you have a possibility to have a counsel at the cost of the State.

The District Court may decide a case relating to a restraining order even if the person against whom the order is applied for refuses to come to court. The restraining order will enter into force as soon as it has been imposed.

If the restraining order later on proves to be unnecessary, you can apply to the District Court to have it repealed. The parties cannot mutually agree on the termination of the order.