Why do you need to know about injunctions
Injunctions can and have been used by Multinationals (and other Companies) to try and silence campaigners. You need to know what they are and when they can be used as they may be used against you.
What are They
A person/Company must first have a cause of action before they can apply for an injunction. This is a claim for damages (money) where there has been loss (financial or property) or damage (to people or property) caused by an identifiable person/group. It is commonly called "suing" someone. There are always two or more parties The Plaintiff who is suing, and the Defendant(s) who are being sued. A claim has to be proved on the balance of probabilities (civil burden of proof) rather than beyond reasonable doubt (criminal burden of proof) - i.e. much easier to prove.
An injunction is an order of the court restraining someone from doing something or making them do something. There are no set formulae for injunctions so they can be used in many different ways, e.g. to stop a person going to a property or within a certain distance of that property.
Sometimes, a Company just wants to stop something from happening, but has to make a claim for damages to get the injunction. If so, they probably won't pursue a claim once they get an injunction - especially if the defendant is legally aided, as they wont get any money anyway!
Injunctions are usually called interlocutory injunctions. This means injunctions which are made only until the final hearing of a claim for damages - a bit like bail conditions
A court may grant an injunction when the case has finished. This can be to help enforce the final order, and/or can be to prevent a party acting contrary to the spirit of the court's judgment.
A Mandatory injunction, making someone do something is very unusual. Usually they are prohibitory i.e., trying to prevent someone from doing something.
An injunction can be made in the High Court or the County Court and it can be made where there is great urgency without giving any notice to the other party this is called an ex-parte injunction
To make an injunction, the court must be satisfied that:-
i. There is a serious issue to be tried.
ii. That damages would not be adequate
If an injunction is granted it will be endorsed with what is called a Penal Notice it is usually as follows:-
"If you, disobey this order you will be guilty of contempt of court and may be sent to prison or fined or your assets seized"
The means of enforcing an injunction in the High Court is by an order for committal to prison for contempt, by fine or by the issue of a write of sequestration (see later)
A penal notice DOES NOT contain a power of arrest, so if you are in breach of an injunction you cannot be arrested. You have to be served personally with committal papers, then there has to be a hearing to commit you.
Usually an injunction is only against the Defendant who is named on the order. However, where anyone aids and abets that person in committing a breach of an injunction, the court has jurisdiction to commit that person for contempt.
Where a court has made orders to preserve something e.g. documents or property before a trial and a third party who knows about the order but nevertheless destroys or seriously damages the property, they could be guilty of criminal contempt if it was done intending to prevent the "administration of Justice".
Discharging an Injunction
Where a Plaintiff has obtained an injunction ex-parte by the suppression of relevant facts the injunction can be discharged.
This is a special form of injunction stopping a party from disposing of assets or removing them from the jurisdiction (out of the country). A Mareva Injunction will only be granted if the Plaintiff can show that:-
The assets of the Defendant are within the jurisdiction
There is a real risk that the Defendant will remove the assets from the jurisdiction and that any order the Plaintiff might obtain for damages will remain unsatisfied.
Assets of a Defendant
All assets in the legal or beneficial ownership of the Defendant both tangible and intangible are within the scope of a Mareva, e.g., bank accounts, cars, machinery. The Plaintiff must show that the Defendant has assets and has to give evidence of this
A writ ne exeat regno can be issued to prevent a Defendant from leaving the country until they have raised security for the Plaintiffs action.
Anton Piller Orders
This is an ex-parte order authorising entry of a Defendant's premises and the inspection of documents or items on those premises. Although it is like a search warrant it cannot be used to enter the Defendant's premises without their permission. If permission is refused they may be committed to prison for contempt of court. It is only available in exceptional and emergency cases where there is clear evidence that the Defendant has in their possession incriminating documents or property and clear evidence that there is a real possibility that they may destroy such material before any application inter-partes (on notice) can be made.
A writ of sequestration is a drastic method of enforcement employed when other orders of the court have been willfully and deliberately disobeyed. It is in effect a punishment for contempt. It is meant to enforce compliance with an order of the court.
The writ binds the property of the Defendant from the time of its issue. It is an instruction and authorisation for the sequestrator to collect and keep possession of all the assets of the Defendant. They may trace property, which the Defendant has transferred to a third party. Sequestrators may not use force to enter property and seize assets but they may apply to the court for orders (including an injunction) to help them to obtain possession of assets. They have duty to hold assets until the Defendant "purges" their contempt (apologises to the court!) and the court discharges the sequestration.
Sequestration has been effectively used to stop Trade Union activity.
1. Injunctions cannot be applied for on their own - there has to be a claim for damages made either first or at the same time
2. Injunctions are wide ranging and can be made not only against defendants but also against third parties
3. If a defendant is claiming benefits, it is unlikely that a Company will pursue a claim for damages as they wont get any money at the end of it and will have to pay their own costs
4. It is more likely that a Company/Individual will issue a claim just to get an injunction (expensive for them) and then abandon their claim when the Injunction is made - they can't do this too soon as the Injunction usually ends when the claim is heard or withdrawn.
5. You cannot be arrested for breach of an injunction, but you can be committed to prison for contempt of court when they can find you and serve you with papers.
6. If you have any assets or money including a house, these can be seized if they think you might dispose of them, and if an order for damages is made, likewise property can be taken, or in the case of a house made subject to a charging order. This means that if you sell your house, they get their money out of the proceeds.