Interlocutory injunctions

14An injunction is relief in the form of a court order that someone must do, not do or stop doing something.  An injunction should be available whenever required by justice, and it follows that injunctions are available in a wide variety of circumstances.

Some examples of circumstances in which an injunction may be sought include to:

  • restrain a breach of contract;
  • prevent publication or transmission of information;
  • enforce a covenant;
  • restrain a party from exercising a right, such as a mortgagee’s right of sale;
  • compel the performance by a trustee of their duties;
  • restrain a breach of statute;
  • restrain the commencement of winding up proceedings; and
  • prevent the use or disclosure of confidential information.Usually a court will only grant relief in proceedings after there has been a full hearing of the evidence. However sometimes an urgent temporary injunction is required. An ‘interlocutory injunction’ is temporary in that it lasts until a full hearing of the proceedings can be conducted and a judgment delivered. Interlocutory injunctions may be given for example if a person is not immediately restrained from using allegedly confidential information in the course of new employment, then by the time a full hearing can be conducted and an order restraining them made, it will be far too late.

The purpose of an interlocutory injunction is to ensure that the jurisdiction of the court is not stultified by actions before trial that will render the final determination merely academic.

In order to obtain an interlocutory injunction the plaintiff does not have to make out its full case, and the defendant will not usually have recourse to full or any discovery or even to cross-examination of the plaintiff’s witnesses. Usually there will be only a short, limited hearing before a duty judge.