What constitutes harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act (Cap. 256A, 2015 Rev. Ed.)

  1. The Protection from Harassment Act came into force on 15 November 2014
  2. It was passed “to protect persons against harassment and unlawful stalking and to create offences, and provide civil remedies related thereto or in relation to false statements of fact".
  3. The following behaviours constitute offences:
    • Using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or making threatening, abusive or insulting communications with the intent to cause harassment, and thereby causing harassment, alarm or distress to any person; OR
    • Using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour; or making threatening, abusive or insulting communication, which is heard, seen or otherwise perceived by any likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.
  4. Such threatening behaviours may violate the victim’s sense of dignity or create an unfavourable work environment for him/her, posing a risk to the victim’s safety and health.
  5. The harassment may be communicated to the victim through emails, text messages or social media at any place and time, not necessarily in the office only.
  6. The harassment may take place on business trips, official events, the firm's social gatherings or at the client's place of business.
  7. In addition, stalking a colleague, causing or reasonably likely causing harassment, alarm or distress, is an offence under section 7 of the Act.
  8. The following behaviours are examples of stalking:
    • following the victim or a related person;
    • making any communication, or attempting to make any communication, by any means
      • to the victim or a related person;
      • relating or purporting to relate to the victim or a related person; or
      • purporting to originate from the victim or a related person;
    • entering or loitering in any place (whether public or private) outside or near the victim’s or a related person’s place of residence or place of business or any other place frequented by the victim or the related person;
    • interfering with property in the possession of the victim or a related person (whether or not the accused person has an interest in the property);
    • giving or sending material to the victim or a related person, or leaving it where it will be found by, given to or brought to the attention of, the victim or a related person;
    • keeping the victim or a related person under surveillance.
  9. The perpetrators of workplace harassment may be anyone working in the same law firm or who has dealings with the law firm. These may include:
    • Lawyers working in the same firm
    • Consultants
    • Clients of the firm
    • Pupils / Interns
    • Office managers

Examples of stalking:

  • Y, a partner in a law firm, repeatedly sends emails to his associate (X) with suggestive comments about X’s body.
  • Y, a partner in a law firm, sends flowers to his associate (X) daily even though X has asked Y to stop doing so.
  • Y, a lawyer, repeatedly circulates revealing photographs of a lawyer in the same law firm (A) to other colleagues.