What is a Personal Protection Order in Singapore?
The Personal Protection Order in Singapore works as a Court order against family violence. It is granted pursuant to Section 65 of the Women’s Charter. In cases where there is imminent danger, the Court may also grant an Expedited Order. In cases where the perpetrator and the victim are living under the same roof, the Court may also grant a Domestic Exclusion Order, to exclude the perpetrator from the living area of the victim.
The Personal Protection Order in Singapore will be granted if the Court is satisfied on a balance of probabilities that:
1. Violence has been/ is likely to committed against a family member.
2. The Personal Protection Order in Singapore is necessary for the protection of the family member.
What is Family Violence?
Under Section 64 of the Women’s Charter, “family violence” means the commission of one of the following acts:
1. Wilfully or knowingly placing, or attempting to place, a family member in fear of hurt.
2. Causing hurt to a family member by an act which is known or ought to have been known would result in hurt.
3. Wrongfully confining or restraining a family member against his Will.
4. Causing continual harassment with intent to cause or knowing that it is likely to cause anguish to a family member.
However, “family violence” does not include any force used lawfully in self-defence or by way of correction towards a child below 21 years of age (i.e. milder disciplinary actions).
What is a Family Member?
A family member includes:
1. A spouse/ former spouse of the person.
2. A child of the person, including an adopted child and a step-child.
3. A father or mother of the person.
4. A father-in-law or mother-in-law of the person.
5. A sibling of the person.
6. Any other relative of the person or an incapacitated person who the Court opines should be regarded as a family member.
Who Can Apply for a Personal Protection Order in Singapore?
All Singapore citizens, all persons in Singapore and all persons who are domiciled in Singapore are eligible to apply for a Personal Protection Order, Expedited Order and Domestic Exclusion Order in Singapore.
The following people can apply for a Personal Protection Order in Singapore.
1. The family member concerned, provided that he/ she is not under 21 years old and not an incapacitated person.
2. The guardian or relative or care-giver of the family member if the family member concerned is under the age of 21 or is incapacitated.
3. The family member concerned, if he/ she is under 21 years old but he/ she is married or previously married.
The Protection Orders Available
The Family Justice Courts can make one or more of the following protection orders.
1. Personal Protection Order in Singapore.
2. Expedited Order in Singapore.
3. Domestic Exclusion Order in Singapore.
4. Counselling Order.
Henceforth, we will refer to all these protection orders collectively as PPO in Singapore.
Personal Protection Order in Singapore (PPO)
What is a Personal Protection Order? The PPO serves as a restraining order to restrain the perpetrator from committing family violence. It will be granted in cases where the Court feels that family violence has been/ is likely to be committed and a PPO is essential.
Expedited Order (EO)
The EO is temporary PPO. It is granted in cases where the Court feels that there is “imminent danger of family violence”. There is no need to specially apply for it and you do not have to go through a trial to get an EO. How long does a PPO order last? As mentioned, it is only a temporary PPO and is valid for 28 days or when the Court hearing takes place, whichever comes earlier. A subsequent EO can be granted upon expiry of the EO.
Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO)
Under a DEO, the victim can be granted the right of exclusive occupation of the shared residence or part of the shared residence and exclude the perpetrator if the Court feels a DEO is necessary. The DEO does not affect the ownership of the house.
Counselling Order (CGO)
A Counselling Order can be made by the Court. The Counselling Order will refer the parties to counselling and it is made together with a PPO. Counselling takes place at a family support agency. The Family Justice Courts will have a counselling review date about 6 to 9 months after the Counselling Order.
Differences Between PPOs and Protection Orders under the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA)
The PPOs specifically offers protection against family violence while the Protection Orders under POHA protect an individual against harassment-related acts such as stalking and using of threatening and abusive words/ behaviour. A Protection Order under POHA can be applied against both family and non-family members.
Applying for a PPO in Singapore
PPO application online- You may wish to consider using the iFAMS (Integrated Family Application Management Systems). You will need to upload supporting documents (such as medical reports and police reports).
To make a PPO application online, you will need to log into the iFAMS system with your Singpass ID. Thereafter, you will be able to make a draft application for your PPO.
After making your PPO application online, you can proceed to the Family Protection Centre at the Family Justice Courts to have your documents verified and complete your application. In the alternative, you may also proceed to one of the following agencies to do so.
It is possible that counselling sessions on your safety be provided by a Court Family Specialist before the application is finalized.
After the application is made, a District Judge at the Family Justice Courts will review your application and order that a summons be issued to the alleged perpetrator if your application is in order. A $1 nominal fee needs to be paid. The District Judge may also order for an expedited order, if he/ she feels that there is imminent danger. The Court process server will serve the summons personally on the alleged perpetrator.
After this, a Court mention will be scheduled and the Court will inform the respondent (i.e. the alleged perpetrator) of the complaint. If the respondent agrees with the complaint, a PPO will be issued (in some cases, together with a Counselling Order). Otherwise, counselling will be conducted by a Court Family Specialist with the aim of resolving the matter.
If the matter is still not resolved, the matter will proceed to hearing. The District Judge will, after reviewing the evidence, decide if a PPO should be issued.
How Long Does It Take to Get a PPO?
Assuming that the respondent agrees with the complaint, it may take under 2 months to get a PPO. Otherwise, it could take between 3 to 6 months for the matter to proceed to a Court hearing to get a PPO.
How Long Does a PPO Last?
This is to be determined by the District Judge hearing the matter.
Can You Not See the Respondent in Court?
It is possible to arrange for the Court to arrange for video-link (i.e. for you to give evidence at another location). Counselling can also take place separately.
Absence from Court
What if the Respondent decides not to turn up in Court? A warrant of arrest can be issued against the respondent. However, if the Complainant decide not to turn up in Court, the application will be struck out.
What if Either Party is Dissatisfied with the Court Order?
An appeal may be made to the High Court. Either party will have 14 days to file a Notice of Appeal and pay security for costs.
What if the PPO is Disobeyed?
The Respondent can be fined or jailed for disobeying the terms of the PPO.
Changes to the PPO
Upon application made by either party, the Court has the power to vary, suspend or revoke the PPO. The process is similar to the application of the PPO. However, you do not need to provide past documents such as medical reports or police reports. You will just need your identification document (NRIC or passport).
If the relationship between parties have completely mended, revocation of the PPO will be appropriate. If the relationship has improved to a point that a PPO is not required at the immediate junction, a suspension of the PPO will be appropriate. If there are more appropriate terms (e.g. to make the PPO more stringent or flexible), an application for a variation of the PPO may be made.
Do You Need a Lawyer for Your PPO Application?
Strictly speaking, no. However, a lawyer can provide you with the necessary advice and ensure that the documents are submitted correctly, increasing the overall chances of getting a PPO (or successfully defending against a PPO application).
Contact us at +6598330314 (whatsapp) for more information on PPO in Singapore.
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