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Interim Injunctions – The Power and Perils

Interim injunctions play a vital role in compelling parties to either halt or carry out specific actions, as enforced by a Court Order.

This becomes particularly important where an immediate fix is necessary for the survival of your business and a long and drawn-out litigation process would only aggravate the damage suffered.

Injunctions are indispensable tools allowing parties to effectively “hold the ring” until their primary dispute has been resolved.

What is an interim injunction and when can you get one?

An interim injunction is a court order instructing a party to either initiate or cease a particular action or behaviour for a specified period of time – usually until the claim has been concluded at trial.

Applications for injunctions can be made prior to or during ongoing court proceedings. Pre-emptive injunctions may be granted in cases of urgency e.g. where there’s a risk of dissipation.

Types of injunctions

There are several types of interim injunctions, the most common are:

  • Freezing injunctions – restricting dealings with assets;
  • Search orders – permitting a search of a party’s property or premises for the purpose of preserving evidence and property;
  • Orders directing a party to provide information about the location of property or assets; and
  • Orders requiring delivery up of certain assets and/or property.

Whilst these are fairly board categories of interim injunctions, the court does have the power to grant more niche and specific injunctions, including, but not limited to:

  • Injunctions to restrain trespass or nuisance;
  • Injunctions to restrain unlawful competition by directors and employees;
  • Anti-suit injunctions, restraining foreign legal proceedings;
  • Privacy and confidentiality injunctions, protecting an applicant’s personal privacy or confidentiality in business or personal information; and
  • Injunctions protecting patentee or IP right-holder rights.

Cross-undertaking in damages

Typically, an applicant seeking an interim injunction must provide a “cross-undertaking in damages”.

This is essentially a promise made to the court that you shall compensate the injuncted party for any losses they suffer if your injunction was wrongly granted. Without this undertaking, the court is highly unlikely to grant the injunction.

Applicants seeking injunctions should carefully consider the risk of loss to the injuncted party and take legal advice as to the risks.  It is a very costly mistake to make if your injunction is considered as improper later down the line.

Consequences of breaching an injunction

In the event of a breach, the party who obtained the injunction can bring contempt of court proceedings against the party in breach.

The court will consider the circumstances of the breach and determine the appropriate sanctions, which could be imprisonment, financial penalties, seizure of assets, or any other remedy the court deems appropriate.

The court notoriously does not take breaching an injunction lightly and is likely to come down heavily on anyone who actively does do. This is one of the reasons that injunctions are such an effective tool.

Do you need an interim injunction?

Interim injunctions are an indispensable tool to effectively preserve the status quo until a dispute has been resolved.

However, injunctions require you to satisfy very specific factual and legal criteria. The court requires a high standard of proof and justification from applicants and will not make injunctive orders without being fully satisfied of the merits.

Is it therefore crucial that you consult with experienced lawyers to guide you through the process.

How can Morr & Co help?

If you require assistance and advice with a commercial dispute or have any questions about this article, please call our Dispute Resolution team on 01737 854500 or email [email protected] and a member of our expert team will get back to you.


Although correct at the time of publication, the contents of this newsletter/blog are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Please contact us for the latest legal position.

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