Intervention orders can be confronting to deal with, but need to be responded to appropriately. If you have received an intervention order, here are some tips:
1. Intervention orders – Understand what you’ve received
It is important to understand exactly what you have received. Is there an interim order against you? When is the court hearing? On what grounds is the application made against you?
These are some of the typical documents you may receive:
- Application: this is a copy of the application document starting the proceeding. It lists out the grounds and supporting facts for an intervention order. The original is filed with the court and a copy is served on you. Applications for intervention orders can be made by an affected individual, a parent or the police on behalf of a person in need of protection. Once the application is filed with court, the court registrar will interview the applicant. The applicant affirms that the contents of the application are correct and a summons is issued;
- Summons: this is a request to appear in court at a specified date, time and place. At this hearing, the court will hear your response and either make a decision on the application or set a contested hearing date for a later time. You must appear at this court hearing; and
- Interim order: the court may grant interim intervention orders with the summons. An interim order is not a permanent intervention order. Most interim intervention orders last until the date of your next court hearing. An interim order can be made in your absence.
2. Intervention orders – Respond
On the first hearing date, you can respond to an application (or interim order) with the following:
- Agree with the intervention order: you can agree with the intervention order without agreeing with the contents of the application or the conditions (rules) of the order. You will need to appear in court and state that:
- you agree to the intervention order, and
- exactly what you are consenting to and what you disagree with. (This is called “consenting without admission”);
- Ask for an undertaking in place of an order: an undertaking is a written promise to court that you will, or will not, do something (e.g. you won’t contact the applicant). Breaching an undertaking is not a criminal offence, but will give rise to civil sanctions (e.g. a fine). The applicant must accept the undertaking. Once accepted, the application is withdrawn and an undertaking is made to court. However, the applicant is still free to reapply for intervention orders in the future; or
- Disagree with the intervention order: you can contest the application, the interim order or any of its conditions in court. This occurs after the first court appearance (i.e. not the date of the summons hearing). The first court hearing (i.e. the date on your summons) is a “mention date” where the court will ask you whether you agree with the intervention order. This is a quick appearance and you will not get the opportunity to present your argument or any evidence. Tell the court you wish to contest the application, intervention order or any of its conditions. The court will then schedule a date for a second hearing, known as the “contested hearing”.
Do not ignore the summons. If you do, the court will rely on the applicant’s version of events and may make a final order based on the application, in your absence and without your response.
3. Intervention Orders – Prepare for the contested hearing
Between the mention date (first appearance) and the contested hearing (second appearance), you should do the following:
- Seek legal advice. It is recommended that you have a lawyer represent you at the hearing;
- Arrange witnesses to support your version of events. If you call witnesses on the day, you will first need to send them a summons (notice to appear in court) through the court registrar; and
- Organise any evidence (documentary or physical) you wish to rely on to support your story.
At a contested hearing, you will need to show the court that:
- The applicant’s claims are false; and
- You do not pose a risk to the applicant or the protected person (so there is no need for intervention orders).
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