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An injunction is a legal and equitable remedy in the form of a special court order that compels a party to do or refrain from specific acts. [1] "When a court employs the extraordinary remedy of injunction, it directs the conduct of a party, and does so with the backing of its full coercive powers." [2] A party that fails to comply with an injunction faces criminal or civil penalties, including possible monetary sanctions and even imprisonment. They can also be charged with contempt of court. Counterinjunctions are injunctions that stop or reverse the enforcement of another injunction.



The injunction is an equitable remedy, [3] that is, a remedy that originated in the English courts of equity. Like other equitable remedies, it has traditionally been given when a wrong cannot be effectively remedied by an award of money damages. (The doctrine that reflects this is the requirement that an injunction can be given only when there is "no adequate remedy at law.") Injunctions are intended to make whole again someone whose rights have been violated. Nevertheless, when deciding whether to grant an injunction, courts also take into account the interests of non-parties (that is, the public interest). When deciding whether to give an injunction, and deciding what its scope should be, courts give special attention to questions of fairness and good faith. One manifestation of this is that injunctions are subject to equitable defenses, such as laches and unclean hands. [4]

Injunctions are given in many different kinds of cases. They can prohibit future violations of the law, such as trespass to real property, infringement of a patent, or the violation of a constitutional right (e.g., the free exercise of religion). Or they can require the defendant to repair past violations of the law.

An injunction can require someone to do something, like clean up an oil spill or remove a spite fence. Or it can prohibit someone from doing something, like using an illegally obtained trade secret. An injunction that requires conduct is called a "mandatory injunction." An injunction that prohibits conduct is called a "prohibitory injunction." [5] Many injunctions are both—that is, they have both mandatory and prohibitory components, because they require some conduct and forbid other conduct.

When an injunction is given, it can be enforced with equitable enforcement mechanisms such as contempt. [6] It can also be modified or dissolved (upon a proper motion to the court) if circumstances change in the future. [7] These features of the injunction allow a court granting one to manage the behavior of the parties. That is the most important distinction between the injunction and another non-monetary remedy in American law, the declaratory judgment. [8] Another way these two remedies are distinguished is that the declaratory judgment is sometimes available at an earlier point in a dispute than the injunction. [8]



In the state of New South Wales, a court may grant an apprehended violence order (AVO) to a person who fears violence, harassment, abuse, or stalking. [9] The order prohibits the defendant from assaulting, harassing, threatening, stalking, or intimidating the person seeking the order. Other conditions may be included, such as a prohibition against contacting the person or attempting to find the person online. [10] A court may issue the order if it believes a person has reasonable grounds for their fears or has no reasonable grounds for their fears. Non-compliance may result in the imposition of a fine, imprisonment, or both, and deportation.


Interim injunctions are a provisional form of injunctive relief, which can compel a party to do something (mandatory injunction) or stop it from doing something (prohibitory injunction). [11]

A plaintiff seeking an interim injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer severe harm in the absence of preliminary relief, and that an injunction is in the public interest. [12]

In Turkish law, interim injunction is an extraordinary remedy that is never awarded as of right. In each case, courts balance the competing claims of injury and consider the likely hardship on the defendant. [11]

United States


Injunctions have been especially important at two moments in American history.

First, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, federal courts used injunctions to break strikes by unions. For example, after the United States government successfully used an injunction to outlaw the Pullman boycott in 1894 in 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 United States 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 that it effectively prohibited federal court from issuing 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.

Second, injunctions were crucial to the second half of the twentieth century in the desegregation of American schools. Federal courts gave injunctions that carried out the command of Brown v Board of Education to integrate public schools in the United States, and at times courts took over the management of public schools in order to ensure compliance. (An injunction that puts a court in the position of taking over and administering an institution—such as a school, a prison, or a hospital—is often called a "structural injunction".)

Injunctions remain widely used to require government officials to comply with the Constitution, and they are also frequently used in private law disputes about intellectual property, real property, and contracts. Many state and federal statutes, including environmental statutes, civil rights statutes and employment-discrimination statutes, are enforced with injunctions.


Injunctions in the United States tend to come in three main forms, temporary injunctions, preliminary injunctions and permanent injunctions. [13] [14] For both temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions, the goal is usually to preserve the status quo until the court is able to decide the case.

Temporary restraining orders

A special kind of injunction that may be issued before trial is called a "temporary restraining order" or TRO. A TRO may be issued without notice to the other party or a hearing. A TRO will be given only for a short period of time before a court can schedule a hearing at which the restrained person may appear and contest the order. If the TRO is contested, the court must decide whether to issue a preliminary injunction. Temporary restraining orders are often, but not exclusively, given to prevent domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, or harassment. [14]

Preliminary injunctions

Preliminary injunctions are given before trial. Because they are issued at an early stage, before the court has heard the evidence and made a decision in the case, they are more rarely given. The requirements for a preliminary injunction tend to be the same as for a permanent injunction, with the additional requirement that the party asking for the injunction is likely to succeed on the merits. [15]

Permanent injunctions

Permanent injunctions are issued after trial. Different federal and state courts sometimes have slightly different requirements for obtaining a permanent injunction. The Supreme Court enumerated the traditional four-factor test in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C. as: [16] [17]

  1. the plaintiff has suffered irreparable injury;
  2. remedies available at law are inadequate to compensate that injury;
  3. considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and
  4. the public interest would not be disserved by an injunction.

The balance of hardships inquiry is also sometimes called the "undue hardship defense". [18] A stay pending appeal is a mechanism allowing a losing party to delay enforcement of an injunction while appeal is pending after final judgment has been granted by a lower court. [19] :871


The DOJ and the FTC have investigated patent holders in the United States for seeking preliminary injunctions against accused infringers of standard-essential patents, or patents that the patent holder must license on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. [20] There is an ongoing debate among legal and economic scholars with major implications for antitrust policy in the United States as well as in other countries over the statutory limits to the patent holder's right to seek and obtain injunctive relief against infringers of standard-essential patents. [21] Citing concerns of the absence of competition facing the patent holder once its technology is locked-in to the standard, some scholars argue that the holder of a standard-essential patent should face antitrust liability when seeking an injunction against an implementer of a standard. [22] Other scholars assert that patent holders are not contractually restrained from pursuing injunctions for standard-essential patent claims and that patent law is already capable of determining whether an injunction against an infringer of standard-essential patents will impose a net cost on consumers, thus obviating the role of antitrust enforcement. [23]

United Kingdom

Interim injunctions

Interim injunctions or interim orders are granted as a means of providing interim relief while a case is being heard, to prevent actions being implemented which potentially may be barred by a final ruling. [24]


In England and Wales, injunctions whose existence and details may not be legally reported, in addition to facts or allegations which may not be disclosed, have been issued; they have been informally dubbed "super-injunctions". [25] [26]

An example was the super-injunction raised in September 2009 by Carter-Ruck solicitors on behalf of oil trader Trafigura, prohibiting the reporting of an internal Trafigura report into the 2006 Ivory Coast toxic waste dump scandal. The existence of the super-injunction was revealed only when it was referred to in a parliamentary question that was subsequently circulated on the Internet (parliamentary privilege protects statements by MPs in Parliament which would otherwise be held to be in contempt of court). Before it could be challenged in court, the injunction was varied to permit reporting of the question. [27] By long legal tradition, parliamentary proceedings may be reported without restriction. [28] Parliamentary proceedings are covered by absolute privilege, but the reporting of those proceedings in newspapers is only covered by qualified privilege. Another example of the use of a super-injunction was in a libel case in which a plaintiff who claimed he was defamed by family members in a dispute over a multimillion-pound family trust obtained anonymity for himself and for his relatives. [29]

Roy Greenslade credits the former editor of The Guardian , Alan Rusbridger, with coining the word "super-injunction" in an article about the Trafigura affair in September 2009. [30]

The term "hyper-injunction" has also been used to describe an injunction similar to a super-injunction but also including an order that the injunction must not be discussed with members of Parliament, journalists, or lawyers. One known hyper-injunction was obtained at the High Court in 2006, preventing its subject from saying that paint used in water tanks on passenger ships can break down and release potentially toxic chemicals. [31] This example became public knowledge in Parliament under parliamentary privilege. [32]

By May 2011, Private Eye claimed to be aware of 53 super-injunctions and anonymised privacy injunctions, [33] though Lord Neuberger's report into the use of super-injunctions revealed that only two super-injunctions had been granted since January 2010. Many media sources were wrongly describing all gagging orders as super-injunctions. [34] The widespread media coverage of super-injunctions led to a drop in numbers after 2011; however four were granted in the first five months of 2015. [35]

European Union

Dynamic Injunction

Injunctions defined by the European Commission as

injunctions which can be issued for instance in cases in which materially the same website becomes available immediately after issuing the injunction with a different IP address or URL and which is drafted in a way that allows to also cover the new IP address or URL without the need for a new judicial procedure to obtain a new injunction. [36]

Live Blocking Injunction

An injunction described by the European Commission as allowing the repeated blocking of a website every time a live broadcast is in progress. These injunctions are generally used during live sporting events. [36]

See also

Related Research Articles

Equity in common law jurisdictions is a remedial branch of law that is intended to address situations where the law is not robust enough to handle a particular case. It consists of "an elaborate system" of rules and procedures and is administered by separate courts, called "courts of equity" or "courts of chancery", which are empowered to deliver an equitable resolution to a case. The concept of equity is deeply intertwined with its historical origins in the common law system used in England, and a full definition requires describing its historical background. It is distinct from the more general usage of the word "equity" to mean fairness and justice.

A court order is an official proclamation by a judge that defines the legal relationships between the parties to a hearing, a trial, an appeal or other court proceedings. Such ruling requires or authorizes the carrying out of certain steps by one or more parties to a case. A court order must be signed by a judge; some jurisdictions may also require it to be notarized.

Federal Trade Commission United States government agency

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC shares jurisdiction over federal civil antitrust enforcement in the United States with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. It is headquartered in the Federal Trade Commission Building in Washington, DC.

Copyright misuse is an equitable defence to copyright infringement in the United States based upon the doctrine of unclean hands. The misuse doctrine provides that the copyright holder engaged in abusive or improper conduct in exploiting or enforcing the copyright will be precluded from enforcing his rights against the infringer. Copyright misuse is often comparable to and draws from the older and more established doctrine of patent misuse, which bars a patentee from obtaining relief for infringement when he extends his patent rights beyond the limited monopoly conferred by the law.

Reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) terms, also known as fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms, denote a voluntary licensing commitment that standards organizations often request from the owner of an intellectual property right that is, or may become, essential to practice a technical standard. Put differently, a F/RAND commitment is a voluntary agreement between the standard-setting organization and the holder of standard-essential patents. U.S. courts, as well as courts in other jurisdictions, have found that, in appropriate circumstances, the implementer of a standard—that is, a firm or entity that uses a standard to render a service or manufacture a product—is an intended third-party beneficiary of the FRAND agreement, and, as such, is entitled to certain rights conferred by that agreement.

Specific performance

Specific performance is an equitable remedy in the law of contract, whereby a court issues an order requiring a party to perform a specific act, such as to complete performance of the contract. It is typically available in the sale of land law, but otherwise is not generally available if damages are an appropriate alternative. Specific performance is almost never available for contracts of personal service, although performance may also be ensured through the threat of proceedings for contempt of court.

A declaratory judgment, also called a declaration, is the legal determination of a court that resolves legal uncertainty for the litigants. It is a form of legally binding preventive adjudication by which a party involved in an actual or possible legal matter can ask a court to conclusively rule on and affirm the rights, duties, or obligations of one or more parties in a civil dispute. The declaratory judgment is generally considered a statutory remedy and not an equitable remedy in the United States, and is thus not subject to equitable requirements, though there are analogies that can be found in the remedies granted by courts of equity. A declaratory judgment does not by itself order any action by a party, or imply damages or an injunction, although it may be accompanied by one or more other remedies.

A legal remedy, also referred to as judicial relief or a judicial remedy, is the means with which a court of law, usually in the exercise of civil law jurisdiction, enforces a right, imposes a penalty, or makes another court order to impose its will in order to compensate for the harm of a wrongful act inflicted upon an individual.

Enforcement Directive

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Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, 546 U.S. 320 (2006), was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States involving a facial challenge to New Hampshire's parental notification abortion law. The First Circuit had ruled that the law was unconstitutional and an injunction against its enforcement was proper. The Supreme Court vacated this judgment and remanded the case, but avoided a substantive ruling on the challenged law or a reconsideration of prior Supreme Court abortion precedent. Instead, the Court only addressed the issue of remedy, holding that invalidating a statute in its entirety "is not always necessary or justified, for lower courts may be able to render narrower declaratory and injunctive relief."

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association is an Operating Unit within IEEE that develops global standards in a broad range of industries, including: power and energy, artificial intelligence systems, internet of things, consumer technology and consumer electronics, biomedical and health care, learning technology, information technology and robotics, telecommunication and home automation, automotive, transportation, home automation, nanotechnology, information assurance, emerging technologies, and many more.

Adequate remedy

An adequate remedy or adequate remedy at law is part of a legal remedy which the court deems satisfactory, without recourse to an equitable remedy. This consideration expresses to the court whether money should be awarded or a court order should be decreed.. Adequate remedy at law refers to the sufficient compensation for the loss or damages caused by the defendant with a proper monetary award. The court must grant the adequacy of remedy that will lead to a "meaningful hearing". Whether legal damages or equitable relief are requested depends largely on,whether or not the remedy can be valued. Both two elements, compensation and the meaningfulness of hearing, provide a proper way to have an adequate remedy. The word "meaningfulness" of hearing in the law process is the assumption that the defendant compensated must be meaningful for the injured party where the defendant made a fully covered compensation for all the losses. Hence, the hearing in which cannot give any right amount of compensation award or settlement is not "meaningful", and the unavailability of the compensation will lead to an inadequate remedy. The adequate remedy at law is the legal remedies by meaning it is satisfactory compensation by way of monetary damages without granting equitable remedies.

eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 547 U.S. 388 (2006), is a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously determined that an injunction should not be automatically issued based on a finding of patent infringement, but also that an injunction should not be denied simply on the basis that the plaintiff does not practice the patented invention. Instead, a federal court must still weigh what the Court described as the four-factor test traditionally used to determine if an injunction should issue.

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FTC v. Dean Foods Co., 384 U.S. 597 (1966), is a 1966 decision of the United States Supreme Court holding that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may sue in federal court to obtain a preliminary injunction to maintain the status quo against the consummation of a merger that the agency persuasively contends violates the antitrust laws.

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  1. 28 U.S.C.   § 2342 ("The court of appeals ... has exclusive jurisdiction to enjoin, set aside, suspend (in whole or in part), or to determine the validity of...."); 8 U.S.C.   § 1252(f) ("Limit on injunctive relief'); Jennings v. Rodriguez , 583 U.S. ___, ___, 138 S.Ct. 830, 851 (2018); Wheaton College v. Burwell , 134 S.Ct. 2806, 2810-11 (2014) ("Under our precedents, an injunction is appropriate only if (1) it is necessary or appropriate in aid of our jurisdiction, and (2) the legal rights at issue are indisputably clear.") (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted); Lux v. Rodrigues , 561 U.S. 1306, 1308 (2010); Correctional Services Corp. v. Malesko , 534 U.S. 61, 74 (2001) (stating that "injunctive relief has long been recognized as the proper means for preventing entities from acting unconstitutionally."); Nken v. Holder , 556 U.S. 418 (2009); see also Alli v. Decker, 650 F.3d 1007, 1011 (3d Cir. 2011); Andreiu v. Ashcroft, 253 F.3d 477, 482-85 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc).
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