Court procedure for MROs

Applying to a court for a Misconduct Restraining Order (MRO) may be a new experience for you. The process is different to applications for FVROs and VROs.

When you apply for an MRO against someone (the respondent), the court will set a date and time for the first hearing for your application. The court will send the respondent a summons to say that they need to come to court. You do not have the option of having the first hearing without the respondent being told about the application.

This information will help you to understand about the court process in an MRO application.  Find out:

  • where and how to apply for an MRO
  • what happens in court, and
  • how long an MRO stays in force.

Who can apply for an MRO?

If you are an adult, you can apply for an MRO to protect yourself from someone who is not a family member.

An application for an MRO can also be made by:

  • a police officer, to protect an adult or a child
  • a parent, guardian or child welfare officer, to protect a child
  • a person’s guardian appointed under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 (WA).

You can apply to protect more than one person under a single MRO (for example, to protect a family from a disruptive neighbour), but the court will need to decide if it should make an MRO to protect each person. 

A police officer can also apply for an MRO against the respondent to protect the public generally, without having to nominate a particular person as needing an MRO.

Where can I apply for an MRO?

If you are applying for an MRO against:

  • a child between 10 and 18 years old, you must apply to the Children’s Court.
  • an adult, you must apply to the Magistrates Court.

You will need to pay a court fee when you lodge your application for an MRO.

What happens when I apply for an MRO?

Once the court has received your application, it will set a date to come back to court for your application. The court will send the respondent a summons to say that they need to come to court. The first hearing will normally be a mention hearing, which is to check what each person wants to do about the application and get the case ready for a final order hearing (if necessary). Witnesses do not need to come to a mention hearing.

The final order hearing is where the parties (and any witnesses) give evidence in court and the court will decide whether or not it should make an MRO against the respondent. If you want someone else to give evidence as a witness, you need to have them come to court for the final hearing.  You might have to wait before your case is heard, so you (and any witnesses) should plan to be at the court for a whole day, even if the hearing is only listed for a few hours.

What if I miss a court hearing?

If the applicant does not come to a court hearing (either a mention or a final order hearing), their application might be dismissed. If the respondent doesn’t come to court, the matter can be heard without them and the court might make an MRO against the respondent.

If you were not there when the court dismissed your application, or made an MRO against you, you may be able to have that decision set aside and ask the court to deal with the application again. 

What can the court do about costs?

If the court makes an MRO, the respondent might be ordered to pay your legal costs. This can include court fees and some of the costs of hiring a lawyer if you were represented.

You cannot be ordered to pay the respondent's legal costs unless your application was made without any good reason, or to harass or inconvenience the respondent.

How long does an MRO last?

If the respondent was not in court when the MRO was made, it needs to be served on the respondent before the MRO can be enforced.

Once it is in force, an MRO against an adult usually lasts for one year. You can ask for an order against an adult to be longer if you can show it is necessary. MROs against children can only last for up to six months. Orders can run for different times if they are varied or cancelled by the court.

 

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Reviewed: 6 April 2018

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.