Protection order conferences and hearings
This information is designed to assist you to understand what happens after you have made the initial application for a protection order. After you have applied to the court for an order, a date is set for a ‘return conference’ at the court. You must attend if you wish to have a final order made. If you do not attend court, your interim order may be discontinued and your application will be cancelled.
You should advise counter staff that you have arrived for your conference. If you do not wish to be seated in the same waiting area as the respondent, please advise the counter staff.
A deputy registrar will conduct a ‘shuttle’ conference between you and the respondent. The deputy registrar will move between locations to talk to the parties to discuss possible outcomes.
There are a number of possible outcomes, some of which may include:
- Where the parties reach an agreement the matter is settled by an order on a “by consent without admissions” basis. This means that an order is made or varied as agreed by the parties but that the respondent does not admit to the allegations contained in your application.
- The respondent may enter into undertakings. This means that you discontinue your application, no order is made but the respondent has made a promise in similar terms to an order. The terms of the undertakings are as agreed by the parties and may also be made on a mutual basis.
- Where the parties require more time, for example to obtain legal advice, and the parties agree, the matter is adjourned to another date for a further conference.
- If the respondent fails to attend, your application will be put before the Court and an order may be made in the respondent’s absence. This will be up to the Magistrate.
- Where the applicant does not attend, the application may be adjourned or dismissed.
- The applicant may withdraw their application.
- Where the respondent opposes any order being made the matter is adjourned for a hearing before the Court on another day.
If the respondent does not agree to an order being made, the matter is set down for hearing before a Magistrate on another date. You will be required to provide evidence to satisfy the court of your need for an order. Evidence may be provided verbally and/or in writing.
If the respondent agrees to the interim order being extended to the hearing date, the Deputy Registrar will extend the order and set the application down for hearing before a Magistrate. If the respondent does not agree to an extension of the interim order, then the matter will be put before the Court on the same day to decide whether the interim order should be extended.
It will depend on a number of things. If the respondent agrees to the order, then you may only be at court for a short time. If the respondent doesn’t agree to the order or doesn’t appear at court, or you are at court for a hearing, then you may be there for several hours.
A personal protection order can last up to 12 months and a domestic violence order up to 24 months.
If you have grounds for doing so, you may apply to the Court to amend your order by extending it. This should be done at least 21 days before your order is due to expire. The application will be listed for a conference within 2 weeks of being filed.
If you need to change any part of the order or wish to have the order reviewed, you must complete an application to the Court to amend or review the order. Your application will be set down for a conference and will need to be served on the other party. The order does not change until the application has been dealt with either by agreement or after a hearing. Either party can make an application of this sort, however there are limitations depending on how the final order was made.
At any time before the final hearing of a matter, you may file a notice of discontinuance. Legal advice should be sought before a notice is filed.
If you work, live or travel interstate, you will need to register your order in that state or territory in order for the police to investigate any alleged breaches while you are interstate.
Protection orders are not criminal matters and will not give the respondent a criminal record unless the respondent is found guilty of breaching the order.
If the respondent breaches the order, for example by having contact with you when the order prohibits this, the respondent is breaching the order. Any breach should be reported to the Police immediately on 131 444 or if you are in immediate danger you can call 000. If the police are satisfied the respondent has breached the order, the respondent may be charged with a criminal offence. If they are convicted then they will have a criminal record. If you assist the respondent to breach the order, you may be charged with an offence of aiding and abetting the breach of the order.
This document is designed to assist you to understand the procedures relating to protection orders. It is not exhaustive and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. If you are unsure of how to proceed you are encouraged to seek legal advice. Legal Aid (ACT) has an office at the Magistrates Court and may be able to assist you with your application.