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Define the term "directly or indirectly" ...

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Define the term "directly or indirectly" ...

Postby SyntaxTerror » Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:14 pm

I have something that I've been pondering over for some time. When a person receives a restraining order that states that they cannot contact the complainant "directly or indirectly", what does it exactly mean? The word that seems to confuse people is the word "indirectly". I know what I take that to mean but I was wondering about anyone else. Should a restraining order be interpreted narrowly or widely by the courts? Narrowly in favour of the person upon who the order has been placed to ensure that he understands the order and that it doesn't place an undue burden upon him, or so widely so that he cannot give media interviews or talk to relatives or other people who know the complainant?

Consider these two possibilities:

1. A has a restraining order worded as in the above that prevents him from contacting B. A sees B's mother in the street and discusses B with her mother. He does not ask her mother to pass a message on to B.

2. A has a restraining order worded as in the above that prevents him from contacting B. A sees B's mother in the street and discusses B with her mother. He asks her mother to tell B that he's sorry.

Given the wording "directly or indirectly", which of those two scenarios would amount to breaching a restraining order and why?

I have seen an excellent explanation of the term that I do agree with, but that came from a lawyer in the US. I was just wondering what the situation is in England and Wales.
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Re: Define the term "directly or indirectly" ...

Postby shootist » Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:34 pm

A. Depends upon what's said to the mother. If he says things that could reasonably be expected to be passed on then he's courting trouble. E.G. "Hallo Mum. I'm so sorry about what happened but I just can't tell her because of this damned restraining order. If only she knew how sorry I was it could all be made right." Or some such crap.

B. Breach.

If it's got to a restraining order then maybe it's time to let go and move on.
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Re: Define the term "directly or indirectly" ...

Postby 3.14 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:10 am

No contact means no contact. Just move on.
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Re: Define the term "directly or indirectly" ...

Postby dls » Wed Feb 15, 2017 6:38 am

Shootist has it right.
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Re: Define the term "directly or indirectly" ...

Postby atticus » Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:03 am

The question is not about the meaning of "directly or indirectly" but about what constitutes "contact".

As to the answer, see above.

PS would the OP care to share the excellent explanation he/she has seen?
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Re: Define the term "directly or indirectly" ...

Postby shootist » Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:11 am

All will depend upon individual circumstances. Indirect contact might include a phone order for flowers to be delivered, an advert in a newspaper known to be read by the victim, it really does depend upon the whole of the circumstances. Contact might mean something as basic as walking past the victim, even by chance. My advice to anyone the subject of a restraining order who happens to see the (alleged) victim walking towards them in the street would be to cross the road to avoid them. Simply walking past them in close proximity could count.

I believe that there are cases where a person has sought a restraining order and then made efforts to act in a manner designed to ensure the person subject of the order breaches it. IIRC, the order still stands but there may then be grounds for the order to be set aside, or for a court to make one for each party. I'm unfamiliar with the exact terms of these orders as they were not about when I might have encountered them professionally.
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Re: Define the term "directly or indirectly" ...

Postby 3.14 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:38 pm

I've served non-molestatation orders on people before and been hired to gather the evidence of the breech.
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Re: Define the term "directly or indirectly" ...

Postby SyntaxTerror » Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:42 pm

shootist wrote:All will depend upon individual circumstances. Indirect contact might include a phone order for flowers to be delivered, an advert in a newspaper known to be read by the victim, it really does depend upon the whole of the circumstances. Contact might mean something as basic as walking past the victim, even by chance. My advice to anyone the subject of a restraining order who happens to see the (alleged) victim walking towards them in the street would be to cross the road to avoid them. Simply walking past them in close proximity could count.

I believe that there are cases where a person has sought a restraining order and then made efforts to act in a manner designed to ensure the person subject of the order breaches it. IIRC, the order still stands but there may then be grounds for the order to be set aside, or for a court to make one for each party. I'm unfamiliar with the exact terms of these orders as they were not about when I might have encountered them professionally.


I understand your first response in that it could be deemed to be an attempt to work around the restraining order. The issue with this is, what if that was not the intent? And where do you draw the line? It can lead to an unofficial restraining order preventing contact with ANY of a complainant's close circle of friends or family. This is why, IMO, it needs to be construed narrowly. It is up to the mother, in this example, whether to inform her daughter as to what was said.

I did contact Liberty over this issue many years ago and their view was that a restraining order was there to prevent deliberate contact. This would cover example B but not A, unless the intention was to circumvent the order. However, the fact that others seemingly have differing opinions suggest that there's something fundamentally wrong with the way that restraining orders are applied. They need to be clearer and better defined.

The definition I read stated that "directly or indirectly" meant that a person could not ask another person to pass a message on but it didn't prevent them from talking about that person. That's a narrow construct and how most ordinary people would read the definition of "indirect".
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Re: Define the term "directly or indirectly" ...

Postby shootist » Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:14 pm

I do not think that it is necessary to prove intent to breach a restraining order. I suspect that a restraining order will contain some description of what the person subject to it is obliged to observe. As I have indicated, if the order was to mention distance, i.e. not to approach within 100 yards or somesuch, and the two concerned find themselves walking towards each other, the person subject to the order, no matter how unintentional the meeting will be obliged to give way and make space.

What defines indirect contact will depend both upon the wording of the order and what actually happened to suggest a breach. With respect to the OP scenarios, you are right that it may depend upon what the mother did afterwards, but if she did pass on the conversation then the order will probably have been breached. Depending exactly what was said in the order, it may have been breached even if the mother said nothing. Without further exact circumstances you are asking how long a piece of string is.

The trouble with questions like this is that there is so often a situation behind them the nature of which is not fully revealed, and the questioner is merely fishing to an angle to renew a challenge when in fact he will never find it because he does not, or will not, understand the law and it's application to the circumstances in question. I have no idea whether yours is such a question, but if it is then give the full facts and you may get a more helpful answer.
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Re: Define the term "directly or indirectly" ...

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:46 pm

It cannot be right that whether the order is breached depends on what the mother does in response to being spoken to. Whether the person subject to the order has broken its terms must be determined by reference to his own conduct only: what he actually does and intends to happen.

I agreed with shootist that the answer can only be determined by the wording of the order, and also by the circumstances of the case. It would plainly be a breach if the person knows that anything said to the mother is bound to be passed on, much less so if he knows they aren't on speaking terms.

A person against whom a restraining order has been made would be best advised to leave well alone, not just for fear of being sent to the slammer, but also because the other party doesn't want to be contacted. If he isn't sure whether his conduct is going to break the order, I suggest he doesn't do it.
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