The purpose of this page is to outline the conventional approach to the measure of damages for harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act and to identify reported cases which may serve as guides to the amounts which may be awarded.
Note that this is concerned only with damages for distress or anxiety etc. falling short of actual psychiatric injury as where there is actual injury damages will be assessed in the normal way e.g. by reference to the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines in the light of medical evidence.
The conventional approach is that damages for harassment should be approached in the same way as those awarded for injury to feelings in discrimination cases; an approach endorsed by the Court of Appeal in Martins v Choudhary.
However, the point has been made (in S&D Property Investments v Nisbet) that it would be wrong to apply precisely the same awards as discrimination necessarily involves an award for the humiliation of being treated differently on the grounds of a protected characteristic such as sex or race.
In discrimination cases, 3 bands of award were identified by the Court of Appeal in Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police  EWCA Civ 1871. Following an inflationary review in 2009 by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Da’Bell v NSPCC UKEAT/0277/09/CEA, those bands are:
£18,000 to £30,000 for the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment on the ground of sex or race.
£6,000 to £18,000 for serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band
£600 to £6,000 for less serious cases, such as where an act of discrimination is an isolated or one off occurrence.
There are few reported judgments in which damages have been awarded specifically under the PHA. Those I have found are listed in a table (available as a pdf; see below) along with a very brief outline of the nature and extent of the harassment. The document has links embedded to any available reports which should be read for proper detail before trying to apply any of these to an individual case.
In practice, as indeed these cases demonstrate, much will turn both on the nature of the harassment (e.g. whether it involved actual or threatened violence, direct personal confrontation such as visits and calls or was limited to letters), the duration of the course of conduct and, of course, the evidence of the target about the impact of the harassment.