Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Emergency Relief and Preliminary Injunctions

Some matters may require emergency action by a Court to prevent immediate harm. This is generally sought in the form of an injunction.   

What is a preliminary injunction?

A preliminary injunction is a court order to do or not do something issued at the outset of litigation to prevent irreparable harm.  It can take a number of forms and courts have broad discretion as to their scope.  A party that violates a preliminary injunction may be subject to contempt of court and subject to the criminal and civil penalties that go along with it.

How do we obtain a preliminary injunction?

A request for a preliminary injunction will only be granted to prevent immediate and irreparable harm to a party.  It is available when a party would be seriously harmed by waiting for the conclusion of litigation.  For example, a party seeking to stop a company from dumping toxic waste in a river, would be likely to receive a preliminary injunction ordering the company to stop discharging waste during the pendency of litigation.   If harm can be reversed by paying money, a preliminary injunction is not appropriate. 

Although the party seeking an injunction must show a probability of success that they will prevail on their claims, the purpose of a preliminary injunction is not to determine who will ultimately win.  It is meant to maintain the status quo during the pendency of litigation.

The party seeing an injunction is sometimes required to deposit money into the court or post a bond to cover any damage that may arise from the wrongful imposition of the injunction.

When can we get a preliminary injunction?

As the name suggests, a preliminary injunction can be obtained early in the litigation.  Depending upon the nature of the injunction, a motion for an injunction may be made simultaneously with the filing of the claim and the court will often hold a hearing within several days.  In some rare circumstances, a court may grant a preliminary injunction before the opposing party has any opportunity to respond.

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