In litigation, injunctions are a vital legal tool for compelling or preventing an action by a party. Injunctive relief can resolve urgent legal issues that cannot be addressed by monetary compensation alone. However, injunctions can have serious consequences for the subject of the order and can be complex to obtain. Below, we explain the different types of injunctions and explain how injunctive relief works.

What is an injunction?

Injunctive relief, or injunctions, are court orders helpful in protecting a party’s rights, particularly under a contract. Typically, parties seek injunctions to prevent another party from taking an action (prohibitive injunctions) or force another party to do something (mandatory injunctions).

One of the unique benefits of injunctions is that you can seek them on an emergency basis to avoid further damage to your interests or financial loss. If you need to stop something from happening or compel someone to take action imminently, you can hire a lawyer to seek an immediate injunction from the court preventing or compelling the action rather than waiting for a hearing that could be scheduled weeks or even years in advance.

When are injunctions used?

Courts will typically grant Injunctive relief when monetary compensation cannot compensate the party for the issue that is occurring or when a party is trying to compel a party to do something (or stop doing something). They can be granted at various times throughout the litigation process.

Injunctions appear in many different areas of the law and in a variety of circumstances. Below are just a few examples of where and when an injunction might be sought:

  • Business disputes (for example, preventing a shareholder from taking action damaging to the other shareholders);
  • Real estate disputes (for example, preventing another party from damaging or encroaching on property);
  • Intellectual property (for example, prohibiting another party from continuing with unauthorized use of a party’s intellectual property); and
  • Family law (for example, preventing a spouse from withdrawing and concealing jointly-held assets).

Whether an injunction is appropriate in the circumstances requires a facts-specific analysis and an understanding of the law and court rules of that particular jurisdiction.

Types of injunctions

Injunctions can operate in different ways depending on how they are used. Below, we’ll discuss some of the most common types of injunctions. One of the key distinctions between these types of injunctions is how long they remain in effect.

Interlocutory injunctions

Interlocutory injunctions are sought by parties during legal proceedings and last until the court makes a final order. These injunctions are often used as a “holdover” until the court has time to decide on a matter. For example, if an employer sues an employee for violating a non-competition clause by leaving for a competitor, they might seek an interlocutory injunction to prevent the ex-employee from disclosing confidential information to their new employer until the court is able to make a final ruling on the matter.

Interim injunctions

Interim injunctions, like interlocutory injunctions, are a remedy that a party seeks during legal proceedings. Unlike interlocutory injunctions, interim injunctions are meant to last for a short period of time (not more than 14 days). They are commonly used to prevent a party from doing something immediately. For example, if a plaintiff suspects that the defendant will attempt to destroy evidence before the plaintiff can review it, they may seek an interim injunction to secure the evidence.

Permanent injunctions

Permanent injunctions are injunctive relief granted during a trial after fully considering the facts and the parties’ respective rights. To that end, permanent injunctions are something that a party can seek at trial rather than a temporary form of relief while waiting for a trial to occur. This form of injunctive relief is granted where monetary compensation is not an adequate remedy for the party bringing the action (for example, the court might grant a permanent injunction ordering the defendant to stop infringing on another party’s intellectual property rights in the future).

Mareva injunctions, Anton Pillar orders & Norwich orders

Three unique forms of injunction orders commonly sought in urgent matters are Mareva injunctions, Anton Pillar orders, and Norwich orders. These orders are beneficial in matters requiring the quick location and preservation of evidence or funds, such as fraud cases.

Mareva injunctions / freezing orders

Mareva injunctions (sometimes known as “freezing orders”) freeze a defendant’s assets and may also force the defendant to disclose where their assets are located. In fraud cases, Mareva injunctions are commonly used to trace defrauded funds.

Anton Pillar orders

Anton Pillar orders are an essential remedy where critical evidence is at risk of being destroyed or concealed. If granted, the party obtaining the Anton Pillar order can (often with law enforcement’s assistance) seize evidence, including any storage methods (such as hard drives, records, and servers).

Norwich orders

Norwich orders allow the applicant to obtain information from a third party (not a party to the litigation), often to help identify entities or assets involved in a wrongdoing. Banks are common subjects of a Norwich order as they may hold records identifying a fraudster or showing the extent of defrauded assets. Norwich orders are granted sparsely, given the privacy considerations of those involved.

Considerations when seeking an injunction

While injunctive relief is essential in certain scenarios, injunctions aren’t always the best option—and can be extremely difficult to obtain. Judges typically only order injunctions in exceptional circumstances where no other form of relief can adequately compensate the person seeking the injunction.

Although the legal tests will vary slightly by injunction type, some common considerations reviewed by courts when reviewing a request for an injunction include:

  • Does the party seeking the injunction have a valid claim against the party that would be the subject of the order?
  • Is the responding party doing (or not doing something) that is causing irreparable harm to the applicant or their interests if it isn’t stopped (or forced to occur)?
  • Can other remedies, such as financial compensation, adequately redress that harm?
  • What type and degree of harm will occur to the responding party if the injunction is granted?

Roland Luo: Providing Experienced Advice on Injunctions in Vancouver, Across Canada and the U.S.

The law surrounding injunctions in Canada is complex and ever-changing. Successfully obtaining injunctive relief requires knowledge of the legal requirements and swift, definitive action. Roland Luo has extensive experience with injunctions, including high-stress, urgent cases. His skilled representation of clients in commercial litigation matters has fostered his reputation for excellence. He has been appointed as an Independent Supervising Solicitor (ISS) by the Supreme Court of B.C. on multiple occasions, in which he was responsible for the supervision of the search for and retention of evidence gathered via Anton Pillar order.

From its office near the beautiful waterfront in downtown Vancouver, Roland Luo proudly represents a diverse range of communities and clients across B.C., Canada, and the U.S. in commercial litigation, family law, and immigration matters. To schedule a confidential consultation, contact the firm online or by phone at 604-800-4628.