injunction

injunction

[in-juhngk-shuhn]
injunction, in law, order of a court directing a party to perform a certain act or to refrain from an act or acts. The injunction, which developed as the main remedy in equity, is used especially where money damages would not satisfy a plaintiff's claim, or to protect personal or property rights from irreparable harm. It has been historically important especially in tort, domestic relations, labor, and civil-rights law.

Originally courts granted only prohibitory injunctions, on the grounds that the performance of affirmative orders could not be easily compelled or supervised. In the 19th cent., though, affirmative (mandatory) injunctions began to be used, and they are now granted in unusual circumstances. Injunctions issued while an action is pending are termed preliminary, or interlocutory; they are intended to protect the plaintiff's interest so that a final judgment will not be worthless, and they cannot, for the most part, be reviewed by higher courts. If irreparable injury would result even before notice of a hearing could be served, the court may grant a temporary restraining order, which is binding on the defendant until a hearing can be held. A final or perpetual injunction is part of the final judgment of the court, and may be issued after all the evidence has been heard.

Injunctions, like most remedies of an equitable nature, are usually granted by a judge sitting without a jury. The broad discretion courts have enjoyed in using this power has, however, been limited by statute in many areas of the law. An injunction is essentially a personal order, and a defendant who disobeys may be punished for contempt. An injunction in force may be terminated or modified by the court.

Injunctions are today granted in many circumstances where courts of equity formerly refused to act. Thus, courts have ordered the performance of the terms of a contract, or the payment of legal damages by a defendant, sparing the plaintiff the need to seek execution of a judgment. Injunctions have long been used to abate nuisances. The use of the injunction in labor disputes has been a matter of great controversy in U.S. history.

In the late 19th cent. employers were often granted injunctions against strikes or boycotts when they alleged that the purpose of labor's activity (e.g., unreasonably limiting the employer's freedom by requiring him to hire only union members) was illegal. The power of federal courts to enjoin union activity was restricted by the Federal Anti-Injunction (Norris-LaGuardia) Act of 1932, and many states passed similar laws. Later legislation, however, including the 1947 Taft-Hartley Labor Act and the 1959 Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, restored much of the power to use labor injunctions.

In civil proceedings, a court order compelling a party to do or to refrain from doing a specified act. It is an equitable remedy for harm for which no adequate remedy exists in law. Thus it is used to prevent a future harmful action (e.g., disclosing confidential information, instituting a national labour strike, or violating a group's civil rights) rather than to compensate for an injury that has already occurred. It also provides relief from harm for which an award of money damages is not a satisfactory solution. A defendant who violates an injunction may be cited for contempt. Seealso equity.

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An injunction is an equitable remedy in the form of a court order, whereby a party is required to do or interact with in certain ways all right, or to refrain from doing, certain acts. The party that fails to adhere to the injunction faces civil or criminal penalties and may have to pay damages or accept sanctions for failing to follow the court's order. In some cases, breaches of injunctions are considered serious criminal offenses that merit arrest and possible prison sentences.

Basis of injunctions

At the core of injunctive relief is a recognition that monetary damages cannot solve all problems. An injunction may be permanent or it may be temporary. A preliminary injunction, or an interlocutory injunction, is a provisional remedy granted to restrain activity on a temporary basis until the court can make a final decision after trial. It is usually necessary to prove the high likelihood of success upon the merits of one's case and a likelihood of irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction before such an injunction may be granted; otherwise the party may have to wait for trial to obtain a permanent injunction.

Temporary restraints

In the United States, a temporary restraining order (TRO) may be issued for short term. A temporary restraining order usually lasts while a motion for preliminary injunction is being decided, and the court decides whether to drop the order or to issue a preliminary injunction.

A temporary restraining order may be granted ex parte, that is, without informing in advance the party to whom the temporary restraining order is directed. Usually, a party moves ex parte to prevent an adversary from having notice of one's intentions. The order is granted to prevent the adversary from acting to frustrate the purpose of the action, for example, by wasting or hiding assets (as often occurs in dissolution of marriage) or disclosing a trade secret that had been the subject of a non-disclosure agreement.

Apprehended Violence Order

Sometimes, a court grants an apprehended violence order (AVO) to a person who fears violence or harassment from their harasser. A court can issue an apprehended violence order if it believes, on the balance of probabilities, that a person has reasonable grounds to fear personal violence, harassing conduct, molestation, intimidation, or stalking. If a defendant knowingly contravenes a prohibition or restriction specified in the order, he or she can be subject to a fine, imprisonment, or both.

Many states have injunction laws that are written specifically to stop domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault or harassment and these are commonly called restraining orders, orders of protection, or protective orders.

Rationale behind injunctions

This injunctive power to restore the status quo ante; that is, to make whole again someone whose rights have been violated, is essential to the concept of fairness (equity). For example, money damages would be of scant benefit to a land owner who wished simply to prevent someone from repeatedly trespassing on his land.

Injunctions in U.S. labor law context

After the United States government successfully used an injunction to outlaw the Pullman boycott in 1894 in the case of In re Debs, employers found that they could obtain federal court injunctions to ban strikes and organizing activities of all kinds by unions. These injunctions were often extremely broad; one injunction issued by a federal court in the 1920s effectively barred the United Mine Workers of America from talking to workers who had signed yellow dog contracts with their employers.

Unable to limit what they called "government by injunction" in the courts, labor and its allies persuaded the U.S. Congress in 1932 to pass the Norris-LaGuardia Act, which imposed so many procedural and substantive limits on the federal courts' power to issue injunctions as to effectively prohibit all federal court injunctions in cases arising out of labor disputes. A number of states followed suit and enacted "Little Norris-LaGuardia Acts" that imposed similar limitations on state courts' powers. The courts have since recognized a limited exception to the Norris-LaGuardia Act's strict limitations in those cases in which a party seeks injunctive relief to enforce the grievance arbitration provisions of a collective bargaining agreement.

Common reasons for restraining orders

See also

References

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