Injunctions—stop in the name of the law

In the old days people would rush before the King and demand justice and he would immediately deal with the case. When the King decided to knock that on the head lawyers got hold of litigation and implemented increasingly more longwinded processes.

Today the processes are relatively quick but you still need to jump the hurdles of your lawyer wanting to send a warning letter to the other side, collecting detail and paperwork, taking statements and doing a lot of messing about called solid preparation. It takes weeks before you can slap a writ on your enemy and worse still, they don’t even call it a writ anymore.

However, if the matter is urgent, for example, your former employee gives your client list to a competitor or a neighbour threatens to knock down your wall or tree or a nuclear attack is imminent, you can be in court the following morning. In urgent matters a court will order an interim injunction to stop the action until the case can be heard. 

But courts do not grant injunctions lightly. There are certain tests that a judge will apply, such as-

1.   It’s got to be something serious. Anything involving pets, hurt feelings or golf are not going to do it.

2.   Is it really necessary? Could a payment (damages) after the hearing be sufficient compensation?

3.  The court will try to balance the convenience of granting an injunction to you against the inconvenience to your opponent. For instance, what if you were wrong but the injunction causes your opponent’s business to go under? 

You must undertake to be responsible for any loss caused by the injunction if you should eventually lose the case.

An application for an interim injunction is quick, exciting and, of course, expensive. 

© Paul Brennan 2006. All rights reserved. 

Listen to this article on the "Law" Podcast 


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