Protecting Your Business from Harassment

Jun 12, 2024 | , , , , | News

Well known, expedient and cost-effective mechanisms exist for protecting oneself against harassment through the application for Interim Protection Orders, but harassment against a business, be it a company, closed corporation, partnership or sole proprietor has gone largely undiscussed.

Harassment Protection

Protecting Your Business from Harassment

Well known, expedient and cost-effective mechanisms exist for protecting oneself against harassment through the application for Interim Protection Orders, but harassment against a business, be it a company, closed corporation, partnership or sole proprietor has gone largely undiscussed.

 

Interim Protection Orders for Individuals

If you are being harassed in your personal capacity, you have the remedy of obtaining an Interim Protection Order in terms of the Protection from Harassment Act, no. 17 of 2011 (“the Act”).  This remedy has been designed by the Courts to provide an aggrieved individual with immediate relief, interdicting someone from harassing you, whether it be direct or indirect harassment.  It is an easily accessible process that anyone can make use of, with or without the assistance of an attorney or appropriately qualified legal practitioner.

It involves completing what is known as a FORM 3 application in terms of Section 3(2) of the Act, which can either be obtained at your local SAPS office, your local Magistrate’s Court or online here.

Once you have obtained the form, you need to complete it in full, setting out the details of the party harassing you, the harassment you have been experienced and you need to set out the conditions and terms of protection you require (i.e. for the harasser to not make contact with you, etc.).

Once completed, you will need to attend to your local Magistrate’s Court to request that your application be granted. When completing the form, you need to ensure that you sufficiently set out why you require urgent protection. If you fail to set out sufficient reasoning for the urgency, the Court has discretion to set the matter down, where both you and your harasser will be afforded the opportunity to argue your cases before the Magistrate. If you are uncertain whether you have sufficiently made a case for urgency, it may be best for you to consult with an attorney experienced in protection orders. 

If the Court is immediately satisfied with the urgency set out in your application, immediate relief will be granted in the form of an Interim Protection Order, which has the full force and effect of a Final Protection Order until the return date where the IPO will either be dismissed or made into a final order. Should your harasser breach the IPO, a warrant for their arrest can be issued, depending on the nature of the breach.

 

Interim Protection Orders for Business

There has however been little discussion around the protection of businesses from clientele (current or former), former employees and other third parties who harass your business and your employees.

Many people are only aware of the relief for such harassment through obtaining an interdict from Court, but this is not necessarily the case. It is possible for a business to make use of the mechanism of obtaining an IPO via the Harassment Act.

The process works similarly for a business as it does for an individual, with even the exact same application form being utilized, with the only difference being that the person making application on behalf of the business needs to be duly authorized to represent the business, preferably by way of a resolution signed by the owners / directors / members of the business.

In a world where we are more connected than ever, be it for good or for bad, it is important to know how to protect your business and your employees from disgruntled customers, clients, former employees and competition, who might make it their mission to disrupt your workplace. Your place of work needs to remain a safe place for you and your employees, so it is important to be aware of and know how to utilize all the remedies at your disposal to ensure it remains that way.

The content does not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Kindly contact us on info@cklaw.co.za or 021 556 9864 to speak to one of our attorneys.

Author:
Neil Bensch

Neil Bensch

Neil primarily practices in commercial law, with a focus on insolvency law, collections, evictions, contracts and perfection of notarial bonds.

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