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Stop Harassment Now: How to Get an Emergency Injunction in the UK

An emergency injunction is a legal remedy that can be sought in urgent situations where immediate action is required to prevent harm or damage. It is a court order that prohibits a person from doing something, or requiring them to take a specific action.

Emergency injunctions are commonly sought in cases involving family law, employment law, defamation and commercial disputes.

The Process

The first step in obtaining an emergency injunction is to approach the court. The applicant will file an application notice (usually an N244), a claim form, supporting evidence (witness statements, exhibits and suchlike) and a draft order. A skeleton argument should be filed with the court two days before the hearing, if possible, and served in accordance with the CPR on any party against whom the order is sought.

A cross-undertaking in damages will usually be required when granting an emergency injunction, meaning that the party seeking the injunction must agree to compensate the other party for any losses they suffer if the injunction is later found to have been wrongly granted.

The Threshold

The party seeking an emergency injunction must satisfy the court that there is a real and imminent risk of harm or damage if it is not granted. The court will consider whether the harm or damage can be adequately compensated with monetary damages, or whether the injunction is the only effective remedy.

Once this threshold test is met, the court will then consider the three main principles for granting an emergency injunction, known as the American Cyanamid principles:

  • whether there is a serious question to be tried; and
  • if so, what is the balance of convenience.

The balance of convenience refers to the overall fairness of granting the the remedy. The court will weigh the potential harm or damage that the applicant may suffer if it is not granted against the harm that the respondent may suffer if it is granted. The court will also consider the impact on any third parties who may be affected by the injunction.

Further factors include whether damages would be adequate compensation if the injunction were not granted. If the court believes that the harm cannot be adequately compensated with damages, it is more likely to grant the injunction.

The court will consider the applicant’s conduct. If the applicant has acted in bad faith or has delayed in seeking the injunction, the court may be less inclined to grant it. On the other hand, if the applicant has acted promptly and in good faith, the court may be more likely to grant it.

Ex-Parte Injunctions

In emergency situations, the court may grant an injunction without the applicant having giving notice to the respondent. This is known as an ex-parte injunction. However, the applicant must provide full and frank disclosure of all material facts, including any facts that may be unfavourable to their case. If the court later discovers that the applicant did not fully disclose all the relevant information, the injunction may be discharged and the applicant may face serious consequences. See our previous blog post on the dangers of ex-parte interim injunctions.

Key case law

The legal basis for emergency injunctions in English law can be found in various pieces of legislation, including the Civil Procedure Rules and the Human Rights Act 1998. However, it is case law that has shaped and defined the principles and procedures surrounding emergency injunctions – in particular, the following cases:

  • American Cyanamid Co v Ethicon Ltd [1975]

In addition to key principles set out above, the court held that an injunction may be granted even if the applicant is not likely to suffer irreparable harm if it was not granted.

  • Jaggard v Sawyer [1995]

In this case, the court clarified that an injunction could be granted to prevent a party from taking advantage of their own wrongdoing. This is known as the ‘clean hands’ principle and means that the court will not grant an injunction to a party who has acted dishonestly or unfairly.

  • Hoffmann-La Roche v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry [1975]

The court held that the court has the power to grant an injunction in the public interest, even if there is no personal interest involved. This has been applied in cases involving environmental issues, human rights, and public health.

  • Mercury Communications Ltd v Director General of Telecommunications [1995]

The court held that an injunction could be granted against a public authority if there was a risk of serious and irreparable harm and there was no alternative remedy available.

  • Bloomsbury Publishing Group plc v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2003]

The court extended an injunction due to the potential injustice to the claimant if it were not so extended. This judgment provides an important precedent for acting against persons unknown in order to restrain a breach of copyright/confidence, providing the threat can be made out.

What we offer

At MSR Solicitors, we offer a range of legal services related to the subject above, including:

1. Legal advice and representation

Our team of experienced solicitors has a deep understanding of the legal principles and procedures surrounding emergency injunctions. We provide our clients with expert legal advice and representation, ensuring that their rights and interests are protected.

2. Emergency injunction applications

We assist our clients in preparing and filing emergency applications, providing them with the best chance of success.

3. Injunction hearings

If an emergency injunction has been granted, we represent our clients at the hearing, arguing their case and advocating for their rights and interests.

4. Breach of injunctions

In cases where an injunction has been granted, we provide advice and representation to our clients in cases of breach of injunction. Our team of solicitors is experienced in dealing with breach of cases of this nature and will work tirelessly to ensure that our clients’ rights are protected.

Contact us today for a consultation.

*This article is not legal advice but provides a general overview. The specific details of your case will determine the best course of action.