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What is an Injunction?

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What Is an Injunction?

An injunction is an order issued by the court directing a party to take some action or prohibiting them from engaging in specific conduct.  Injunctions may be issued through the judgment order in connection with a lawsuit. They can sometimes be filed as a separate request directly with the court. 

There are many different types of injunctions, which are categorized according to how long they are enforceable. For example, there are:

  • Temporary Injunction: These may be enforceable immediately, but typically last only for a short period of time, usually 10 days
  • Preliminary Injunction: These are also enforceable immediately, but are usually enforceable during the duration of trial until a more permanent order can be secured
  • Permanent Injunction: These are usually issued at the end of a trial as part of the judgment order. A temporary injunction often gets converted to a permanent injunction after all the evidence is weighed during trial.

What Is an Injunction Used for in a Contracts Setting?

Injunctions are frequently awarded in cases involving breach of contract.  The injunction may be issued instead of a monetary damages award. This is common where the value of a certain item can’t be determined, or when monetary damages are not a suitable remedy for the non-breaching party’s losses. 

Some common uses of in injunction in connection with a contracts claim may include:

  • Requiring the breaching party to perform contract terms that they violated- for example, delivering goods or paying for services.
  • Preventing parties from taking further action, for example, prohibiting them from selling goods that they have promised to sell to the plaintiff party.
  • Ordering the breaching party to return goods that they are not entitled to.
  • Requiring a sale to be completed at the contract price.
  • Prohibiting one party from seeking employment elsewhere.

Thus, an injunction is often an efficient way to remedy a breach without requiring the parties to pay damages. In many instances, the non-breaching party is required to choose between a monetary damages award and equitable relief such as an injunction. 

Injunctions are also used in other areas of law besides contract law. Some common examples include domestic abuse injunctions in family law and gang injunctions in the area of criminal law. 

Are There Any Defenses to an Injunction?

The breaching party may sometimes be entitled to raise a defense if the plaintiff is seeking an injunction against them. Since an injunction is an equitable remedy, equitable defenses may be available for the defendant. Some of these may include:

  • “Unclean Hands”: A plaintiff cannot obtain an injunction if they have engaged in similar misconduct as the defendant. 
  • Laches: If the plaintiff intentionally delayed in filing for the injunction, and the delay negatively affected the defendant, it may serve as a defense.
  • Hardship: An injunction may not be enforceable if it causes the defendant extreme or undue hardships that they can’t avoid.

Thus, when requesting for an injunction, the non-breaching party must also be aware of any possible defenses that might be raised by the defendant.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help in Obtaining an Injunction?

Breaches of contract can often result in unnecessary losses for the non-breaching party. If you have been involved in a breach of contract dispute, you may wish to hire a lawyer for help with your claim. An experienced contracts attorney can help answer questions like “What is an injunction?” or, “Are there any defenses to an injunction?” Contract laws may be very different from state to state- be sure to consult with a lawyer if you are unsure of the laws in your area.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 08-28-2014 03:48 PM PDT

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