Power of the Agency
The Child and Family Agency may apply for safety, barring and emergency barring orders on behalf of a person (or a dependant) whose safety or welfare it believes to be at risk of violence and who is being deterred or prevented from making an application because of this risk of violence.
Where a court is dealing with an application under the Domestic Violence Act the court may adjourn the proceedings where it appears that it may be appropriate for a care order or supervision order to be made under the Child Care Act. The court may direct the Child and Family Agency to undertake an investigation into the dependent’s circumstances and may give directions in relation to the care and custody of the dependant while the investigations are being carried out.
The Child and Family Agency is obliged to consider whether it should apply for a care order or supervision order, provide service or assistance to the dependent person’s family or take any other type of action. Where the Agency undertakes an investigation but decides not to apply for a care or supervision order it shall explain its reasons to the court and provide details of any service or assistance provided or actions taken.
There is protection for a spouse against the disposal of household effects in the period between the making of an application for a barring or safety order and the determination of that application. If the order is made, it also covers the period during which the order is in force.
The provision extends protection to civil partners against disposal of household effects.
Hearing of Applications Together
The court may hear Domestic Violence Act applications in tandem with proceedings on other family law matters. This includes proceedings under the Guardianship of Infants Act, the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act, the Family Home Protection Act, the Child Care Act and the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act.
Safety orders, interim barring orders, emergency barring orders, barring orders and protection orders shall take effect when the respondent is notified of the making of the order. Oral communication to the respondent, together with production of the relevant order, is sufficient notification.
The court shall, on the making, varying or discharging of a safety order, barring order, interim barring order, emergency barring order or protection order cause a copy of the order to be given or sent to the applicant, the respondent, the Child and Family Agency (if they made the application for the order) and An Garda Síochána.
An appeal from a safety or barring order can stay (suspend) the operation of the order on such terms (if any) imposed by the court. An appeal from a protection order, interim barring order or an emergency barring order will not stay the operation of those orders.
Discharge of Orders
An application may be made to court for the discharge of safety orders, barring orders, interim barring orders, emergency barring orders or protection orders. The persons who may apply for the discharge of an order are the Child and Family Agency (if they made the application for the order), the applicant or the respondent.
The court may discharge the order if it is of the opinion that the safety and welfare of the applicant or dependant does not require the order to continue in force. The court may also discharge the order if it is determining proceedings relating to the dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership or proceedings under the Guardianship of Infants Act.
Proceedings for orders under the Domestic Violence Act may be heard in the District Court or the Circuit Court. Proceedings are to be heard in private and as informally as possible. Judges in the District Court and the Circuit Family Court, as well as barristers and solicitors appearing in the court proceedings, may not wear wigs and gowns.
Evidence through Television Link
Evidence may be given through live television link by minors, unless the court sees good reason to the contrary, and by other persons with the leave (consent) of the court. The evidence can be either video recorded or audio recorded.
Where live television link facilities are not available in a particular court, the court may order the transfer of the proceedings to a circuit or district court where these facilities are available. This applies to applications for safety orders, barring orders, interim barring orders, emergency barring orders and protection orders.
Where an application is made to a court for any of the above orders and a person under the age of 18 is to give evidence, and the applicant or respondent proposes to cross-examine the person personally, the court shall direct that the applicant or the respondent, as the case may be, may not personally cross-examine the witness unless the court is of the opinion that the interests of justice require the applicant or respondent to conduct the cross-examination personally.
Similarly, where the applicant, the aggrieved person, a dependent person or the respondent to the application is to give evidence, and the applicant or respondent proposes to cross-examine them personally, the court may direct that the applicant or the respondent, as the case may be, may not personally cross-examine the witness unless the court is of the opinion that the interests of justice require them to conduct the cross-examination personally.
Where an applicant or respondent is prevented from cross-examining a witness in this case, the court shall:
- invite the applicant or respondent to arrange for a legal representative to act for him or her for the purpose of cross-examining the witness, and
- require the applicant or respondent to notify the court, by the end of such period as it may specify, as to whether a legal representative is to act for him or her for that purpose.
If by the end of the period the applicant or respondent has notified the court that no legal representative is to act for him or her for the purpose of cross-examining the witness or no notification has been received by the court and it appears to the court that no legal representative is to so act, the court shall consider whether it is necessary, in the interests of justice, for the witness to be cross-examined by a legal representative appointed to act for the applicant or respondent for that purpose.
If the court decides that this is necessary, it shall appoint a legal representative (chosen by the court) to cross-examine the witness on behalf of the applicant or respondent.
Requirement to Give Reasons
Where an application is made to a court for any of the above orders the court shall give reasons for its decision to:
- grant or refuse the application;
- (if applicable) make the specified order subject to exceptions or conditions; and
- to vary the exceptions or conditions
Right to be Accompanied
An applicant may be accompanied in court by a person (including a support worker) of his or her choice. This is in addition to being accompanied by a legal representative, if any. The court may order that the applicant may not be accompanied to court by another person but it must give reasons for this decision.
Views of a Child
The court may ascertain the views of a child when an order is being sought on behalf of the child, depending on the child’s age and maturity. This applies to any proceedings under the Domestic Violence Act with the exception of applications for interim barring orders, emergency barring orders or protection orders.
The court may also appoint an expert to ascertain and convey the child’s views. That expert may be called as a witness in the proceedings. Regulations may be made to in relation to such experts. The court may specify which party/parties to the proceedings will pay the fees and expenses of the expert and the proportions that each will pay.
Taking Effect of Orders
The above orders shall take effect on notification of the making of the relevant order concerned being given to the respondent.
Oral communication to the respondent by or on behalf of the applicant of the fact that the order has been made, together with production of a copy of the relevant order, shall, without prejudice to the sufficiency of any other form of notification, be taken to be sufficient notification to the respondent of the making of the order.
If the respondent is present at a sitting of the court at which the relevant order is made, that respondent shall be taken to have been notified of its making.
A court may direct that a relevant order be served personally by a member of An Garda Síochána on a respondent who is not present at a sitting of the court at which the order is made in any case where there are reasonable grounds for believing that the respondent may evade service of the order, or there is any other good and sufficient reason to so direct.
Copies of Orders
The court, on making, varying or discharging a safety or protection order, shall cause a copy of the order in question to be given or sent as soon as practicable to:
- the applicant for the safety order or, in respect of a protection order, the applicant for the safety order or barring order concerned;
- the respondent to the application for the safety order or, in respect of a protection order, the respondent to the application for the safety order or barring order concerned;
- the Agency, where the Agency has made the application for the safety order or, in respect of a protection order, for the safety order or barring order concerned;
- the member of the Garda Síochána in charge of the Garda Síochána station for the area in which the person, for whose benefit the safety order or protection order was made, resides; and
- where the order in question is a variation or discharge of a safety order or a protection order and the person for whose benefit the order was made had previously resided elsewhere, the member of the Garda Síochána in charge of the Garda Síochána station for the area in which that person had so resided but only if that member had previously been sent a copy of that safety order, protection order, or any order relating thereto.
Effect of Appeal
An appeal from a safety order or a barring order shall, if the court that made the order or the court to which the appeal is brought so determines (but not otherwise), stay the operation of the order on such terms (if any) as may be imposed by the court making the determination.
An appeal from a protection order, an interim barring order or an emergency barring order shall not stay the operation of the order.
Information & Reccomendation
The Court Service is to provide applicants for safety orders, barring orders or emergency barring orders with information on, and contact details for, domestic violence support services.
The court may, when granting a safety order, barring order or emergency barring order, direct a respondent to engage with a programme or services to address issues relating to their behaviour. The court may take account of the respondent’s engagement with such services when hearing proceedings for a variation of, or an appeal from, a safety order, barring order or emergency barring order, or when hearing an application for a further order.
When considering the engagement of the respondent with the programme or service, the court will have regard to the views of the applicant in relation to the engagement and the effect of the engagement on the respondent’s behaviour.
The costs of civil proceedings under the Domestic Violence Act is at the discretion of the court.
Where a person is not residing at a place by reason only of an interim barring order, an emergency barring order or a barring order, that person will not lose their rights under the Statutes of Limitations, the Landlord and Tenant Acts 1967 to 2008, the Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Acts 1982 and 1983 and the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004 to 2015. An interim barring order, emergency barring order or barring order will only suspend the respondent’s right to occupy the place but will not affect any estate or interest the respondent or any other person has in that place.
Any person who contravenes a safety order, barring order, interim barring order, emergency barring order or protection order commits an offence. It is also an offence to refuse to permit an applicant or dependant to enter in and remain in a place for which a barring order, emergency barring order or interim barring order is in force.
In relation to such offences evidence may be given through television link in accordance with the general legislation on giving such evidence.
A person may be arrested without warrant where a member of An Garda Síochána has reasonable cause to believe that an offence is being or has been committed under the legislation. This may follow from a complaint from, or on behalf of, the applicant for the order.
For the purposes of making an arrest, a member of An Garda Síochána may enter, if need be by force, and search the place where it is suspected that the person may be.
Restrictions on those Present
Entry into the courtroom in criminal cases involving breaches of safety orders, barring orders, interim barring orders, emergency barring orders or protection orders is limited to those directly involved in the case as well as officers of the court, bona fide representatives of the press and others specified by the judge.
Prohibition on Publication or Broadcast of Certain Matters
Where proceedings are brought for an offence, it is an offence to publish or broadcast information, photographs, depictions or representations of physical likeness which would lead to identification of the applicant, the person charged or a dependant of either of them. It is not an offence to publish identifying details where the applicant consents to themselves or person charged being identified and where the court agrees to that identification, having first considered the effect of identification on a dependent person.
The judge may also, in the interest of justice, direct the publication or broadcasting of information in a specified manner and subject to conditions.
It is an offence to contravene the anonymity.