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The Law and you

How the law works

Remember, domestic abuse is illegal and there are laws to protect you from it. If you choose to take legal action, you may be asked to gather as much evidence as you can about what your partner is doing. To get legal protection, you will also need to apply to the court.

We can help you find a solicitor and tell you what to expect and we can also accompany you to solicitor’s appointments to support you.

There are three main types of legal action:

Exclusion order
This allows you to remove an abusive partner from your home. An exclusion order applies if you have occupancy rights (that is, if you are married or the house is jointly in your name).  Evidence of the abuse will be required at the civil court in order for an exclusion order to be granted and the perpetrator removed from the property.  The perpetrator will then have a week to appeal the decision.
Under an exclusion order the police can arrest your partner if he tries to enter your home.
Good to Know: If you own or rent your home in your name only, and are not married your partner has no legal rights you have the power to exclude them (for instance by changing the locks).

An interdict is a court order that can be put in place for your protection. A solicitor will apply for an interdict on your behalf and evidence of the abuse will be required by the court. The interdict will be for a specific purpose for example for the abuser not to contact or approach you or enter a house, street or local area.  For the best protection a “power of arrest” should also be requested by your solicitor.
A breach of an interdict is a civil matter and therefore if your solicitor has requested a power of arrest, and it has been awarded, the accused can be arrested for any breach of the order.

Good to know: in an emergency you can apply for an ‘interim interdict’, which your solicitor should be able to get for you within 24 to 48 hours. Within seven days there will be a court hearing to establish what happens next.

Non-harassment order
If your partner is following you, phoning you, or behaving in a frightening or threatening way, you can apply to the court for a non-harassment order. You need to give at least two examples of this behaviour and apply to the court through a solicitor.  Stalking is against the law and you can report stalking to the police.  If you are being followed or harassed for example by phone, text, email or a combination of these, your partner or ex-partner could be charged with a stalking offence.  It is important to keep evidence of this and we can provide you with a stalking diary.

Good to Know: If your partner breaks the conditions of the non-harassment order, the police can arrest him. He may face court proceedings, a fine, or imprisonment.  It is a crime to breach a non-harassment order.

Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme Scotland
The aim of this scheme is to give members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquiries about an individual who they are in a relationship with or who is in a relationship with someone they know, and there is a concern that the individual may be abusive towards their partner.
If police checks show that the individual has a record of abusive behaviour; or there is other information to indicate the person you know is at risk, the police will consider sharing this information with the person or the person(s) best placed to protect the potential victim.
The scheme aims to enable potential victims to make an informed choice on whether to continue the relationship, and provides further help and support to assist the potential victim when making that informed choice.

Who can ask for a disclosure?
• Anyone can make an application if they are worried that the person they are in a relationship with may be abusive.
• Anyone can make an application about an individual who is in a relationship with another person and where there is a concern that the individual may harm the other person;
• Any concerned third party, such as a parent, relative, neighbour or friend can make an application not just the potential victim; however:
• A third party person making an application would not necessarily receive information about the individual concerned. It may be more appropriate for someone else to receive the information, such as the potential victim or another person who is best placed to protect the potential victim.

You can find out more information and download a form to complete to ask for a disclosure on the Police Scotland Website:

To access any of our services call 0131 315 8110 or email duty@edinwomensaid.co.uk. If you wish to refer a client to us please also contact us using these details.

No woman or child should be subjected to domestic abuse. If it is happening to you, please remember, it’s not your fault and we can help. Follow this link for more details of our Drop in and Phone Support Service