Internet / Media Law

Harassment Claims

Harassment Claims in Today’s World – A Worthwhile Tool to Protect Yourself

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (‘PHA’) is a dual relief statute, providing both civil and criminal remedies to victims of harassments by a variety of perpetrators, including the media and online entities, including anonymous persons ‘unknown’. The flexible nature of the PHA means that it can be an invaluable tool to protect yourself against individuals, companies and even a newspaper. In addition, it allows for individuals and also those involved in corporate entities to bring a claim to protect themselves from harassment, notwithstanding that technically a company cannot bring a claim against the PHA.

The relevant sections are section 1 and section 3 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 which deals with the civil remedy.

1 Prohibition of harassment

(1) A person must not pursue a course of conduct 

(a) which amounts to harassment of another, and

(b) which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other…

(2) For the purposes of this section, the person whose course of conduct is in question ought to know that it amounts to or involves harassment of another if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct amounted to or involved harassment of the other.

(3) Subsection (1)…does not apply to a course of conduct if the person who pursued it shows…

(c) that in the particular circumstances the pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable.

3 Civil remedy

(1) An actual or apprehended breach of section 1(1) may be the subject of a claim in civil proceedings by the person who is or may be the victim of the course of conduct in question.

(2) On such a claim, damages may be awarded for (among other things) any anxiety caused by the harassment and any financial loss resulting from the harassment…

7 Interpretation of this group of sections

(1) This section applies for the interpretation of sections 1 to 5A.

(2) References to harassing a person include alarming the person or causing the person distress.

(3) A “course of conduct” must involve –

(a) in relation to a single person (see section 1(1)), conduct on at least two occasions in relation to that person…

(3A) A person’s conduct on any occasion shall be taken, if aided, abetted, counselled or procured by another –

(a) to be conduct on that occasion of the other (as well as conduct of the person whose conduct it is); and

(b) to be conduct in relation to which the other’s knowledge and purpose, and what he ought to have known, are the same as they were in relation to what was contemplated or reasonably foreseeable at the time of the aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring.

(4) “Conduct” includes speech.

(5) References to a person, in the harassment of a person, are references to a person who is an individual.”

Importantly, when dealing specifically with media related matters, the PHA was amended to add a new section 2A, by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 which meant it included a much larger and more detailed list of what could be considered as harassment and was more based on media related issues including but not limited to:

(a)following a person,

(b)contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means,

(c)publishing any statement or other material—

(i)relating or purporting to relate to a person, or

(ii)purporting to originate from a person,

(d)monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,

(e)loitering in any place (whether public or private),

(f)interfering with any property in the possession of a person,

(g)watching or spying on a person.

Pinder Reaux have a wealth of knowledge in bringing such harassment claims, both on a civil basis and in the form of a private prosecution, which can often be an alternative to a defamation or data protection act claim. Pinder Reaux have been acted by company directors in bringing such claims against individuals you were harassment them via online web pages in a form of online stalking, and have been instructed by individuals who were subject to non-stop harassment from a number of overt and covert individuals online.

Can a claim in harassment help you?

  1. If you are being regularly and unwantedly contacted online or offline by persons known or unknown to you – then yes a harassment claim can help you.
  2. Have you reported your concerns to the Police but the Police have taken no action – then yes a harassment claim can help you.
  3. Are you an employees or director of a company who is being contacted unwantedly by other persons, despite doing nothing more than fulfilling your work duties –then yes a harassment claim can help you.

Please call us on 02082527373 to discuss your concerns


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