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.
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