Guide to Personal Protection Orders in Singapore
The Personal Protection Order (PPO) is a court order available under Part VII of the Women’s Charter. It is supplemented by the Expedited Order (EO) and the Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO). The PPO, EO, and the DEO are all intended to function as statutory protection orders against family violence.
General Availability of the Orders
The PPO, EO, and DEO have universal application. They are available to Singapore citizens, all persons in Singapore, and all persons domiciled in Singapore. Therefore, the orders are also available to members of Muslim families in Singapore.
Who Can Apply for PPOs, EOs, and DEOs?
An application may be made by the family member victimised by the family violence. According to section 65(10) of the Women’s Charter, it is also possible to apply for a PPO on behalf of a child or an incapacitated person:
“In the case of a child below the age of 21 years or an incapacitated person, an application under this section or section 66 may be made by a guardian or relative or person responsible for the care of the child or incapacitated person, as the case may be, or by any person appointed by the Minister”.
Where to Apply for PPOs, EOs, and DEOs?
You can apply for a PPO at the Protection Order Services Unit of the Family Court. Alternatively, you may go to any of the following places to make the complaint through a video-link facility:
Centre for Promoting Alternatives to Violence (PAVe)
Blk 211, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3,
Tel: 6555 0390
TRANS SAFE Centre
Blk 410, Bedok North Avenue 2,
Tel: 6449 9088
Care Corner Project StART
Blk 7A, Commonwealth Avenue,
Tel 6476 1482
The Application Process
You (the complainant) can complete the standard Magistrate’s Complaint form at the Community Justice Tribunals Division (CJTD) at Level 1 of the State Courts Building. If there are any relevant medical or police reports, do bring them along.
After the Magistrate’s Complaint form is filed, you will be taken before a magistrate to swear or affirm your complaint. If your application is in order, the magistrate or district judge will direct that a summons to the respondent (the person you are complaining against) be issued.
You will have to pay the prescribed fee for the issuance of the summons. Depending on the facts of your case, the magistrate or district judge may also direct that an EO be issued for your protection.
The court’s process server will serve the summons personally on the respondent at the address you have provided in your Magistrate’s Complaint.
Subsequently, your case will proceed for mention (which usually takes around 5 minutes). The district judge may order parties to proceed for counselling. If there is an agreement between the parties, the district judge may make the necessary orders. If there is no agreement, the district judge will order both parties to disclose medical and police reports, and any other documents, and fix trial dates.
This is followed by the actual trial, heard before a magistrate or a district judge in open court. The open court trial may take a few hours, one day or longer. The magistrate or district judge will make the necessary orders after the hearing is over.
If you fear facing the respondent in court, inform a counsellor or one of the staff at the Protection Order Services Unit. It is possible to arrange for you to give evidence via video-link from another location.
If you are dissatisfied with the order, you may appeal to a judge of the high court.
A lawyer is not necessary in an application for the court orders, although this may be helpful if you can afford it. The following organisations offer legal clinics where you can get preliminary free legal advice:
- AWARE (You can call the helpline at 1800-774-5935 to fix an appointment)
- Singapore Association of Women Lawyers’ Pro Bono Legal Consultation Clinics (You need to call to check if you qualify for free legal consultation)
- The Law Society of Singapore (You need to register for making an appointment)
- You can check with your neighbourhood Community Centre. They may be holding regular legal clinics.
When Will a PPO be Granted?
The PPO is granted only after a trial unless, the offender consents to the grant of the PPO. Section 65(1) of the Women’s Charter provides that:
“The court may, upon satisfaction on a balance of probabilities that family violence has been committed or is likely to be committed against a family member and that it is necessary for the protection of the family member, make a protection order restraining the person against whom the order is made from using family violence against the family member.”
Therefore, to apply for a PPO, 2 elements must be proved:
- An act of family violence has been committed / is likely to be committed against a family member; and
- A PPO is necessary for the protection of that family member.
Who is considered a family member?
A family member is defined in section 64 of the Women’s Charter as:
- A spouse or former spouse of the person;
- A child of the person, including an adopted child and a step-child;
- A father or mother of the person;
- A father-in-law or mother-in-law of the person;
- A brother or sister of the person; or
- Any other relative of the person or an incapacitated person who in the opinion of the court should, in the circumstances, in either case be regarded as a member of the family of the person;
What is considered family violence?
Medical reports or police reports can be used to prove the history of family violence. As defined in section 64 of the Women’s Charter, “family violence” means the commission of any of the following acts:
- Wilfully or knowingly placing, or attempting to place, a family member in fear of hurt;
- Causing hurt to a family member by such act which is known or ought to have been known would result in hurt;
- Wrongfully confining or restraining a family member against his will; or
- Causing continual harassment with intent to cause or knowing that it is likely to cause anguish to a family member,
but does not include any force lawfully used in self-defence, or by way of correction towards a child below 21 years of age. As such, milder forms of violence used to discipline a child (e.g. caning) do not constitute family violence.
The Range of Available Protective Orders in a PPO application
The court can make a wide variety of orders under section 65(5) of the Women’s Charter, including:
- A domestic exclusion order (DEO);
- Referring the person against whom the order is made for counselling; and
- Order to restrain the offender from using violence.
- Order to restrain the offender from inciting or assisting anyone to commit family violence against the family member.
The Domestic Exclusion Order
Under section 65(5)(a) of the Women’s Charter, DEOs refer to:
“…the right of exclusive occupation to any protected person of the shared residence or a specified part of the shared residence by excluding the person against whom the order is made from the shared residence or specified part thereof, regardless of whether the shared residence is solely owned or leased by the person against whom the order is made or jointly owned or leased by the parties”.
The DEO does not affect/transfer the title or ownership of the house. It can be made to exclude, for instance, a husband from the house, even though the husband is the sole owner of the house.
The Expedited Order
The EO is an urgent PPO made without going through a trial. By virtue of section 66 of the Women’s Charter, the court has power to grant an EO immediately upon application of a PPO, if it is satisfied that there is imminent danger of family violence. The EO is valid only for 28 days or when the trial begins whichever occurs earlier.
Violation of PPOs, EOs, and DEOs
By virtue of section 65(8) of the Women’s Charter, where the respondent breaches any orders, he shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000 or to imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or to both and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
What to Do if the Orders are Disobeyed?
Where the offender contravenes the court orders, you should immediately make a police report.
Revocation of the PPO, EO, and DEO
Where relations have mended between the complainant and the respondent, they can visit the Protection Order Services Unit of the Family Justice Court to apply to cancel the orders.
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