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Injunctions General principles on which perpetual injunctions granted
Curust Financial Services v Loewe Lack (SC)
The parties entered a contract together pursuant to which the plaintiffs were exclusively
entitled to deal in its products in Ireland.
The defendant later sought to assign these rights to another party and the plaintiffs
applied for a interlocutory injunction against them.
Held that, since the loss that would occur to the plaintiffs pending the action would be
clearly and exclusively a commercial loss, in what had been a stable and well
established market, it would prima facie be a loss capable of being assessed in damages
(both past and potential future)
Difficulty in assessing these damages (in contrast to complete impossibility) should not
be a ground for holding that damages are an inadequate remedy.
The question as to whether an injunction should apply save where the loss suffered is
small applies to permanent rather than interlocutory injunctions.
Sheridan v Louis Fitzgerald Group (HC)
Plaintif sought an interlocutory injunction to restrain the defendant from granting to a
third party the right to provide restaraunt and catering services at the defendant's public
house, an activity which had previously been carried out by a company in which the
plaintiff had an interest.
The plaintiff would be entitled to damages for any loss which he could establish would
be likely to arise subsequent to the date of the assessment of damages.
While there would be difficulties in making such an assessment, such difficulty fell far
short of the complete impossibility identified in Curust - thus damages would be an
adequate remedy and an interlocutory injunctioin would be inappropriate.
Argyll v Argyll
The plaintiff's immoral conduct led to her husband divorcing her.
She later took an action against him to restrain a breach of confidence.
Held that, a person coming to equity to relief must come with clean hands, but the
cleanliness required is to be judged in relation to the relief that is sought.
Thus, the immoral conduct in this case did not disentitle her to an injunction against her
Chappell v Times Newspapers (CA)
Concerned a dispute between unions and employers in the newspaper industry
Held that, he who seeks equity must do equity
Thus plaintiffs had not been involved in any industrial action but refused to give
undertakings sought by their employers not to engage in disruptive activities.
Thus the court could refuse to grant an interim injunction on the grounds that the
plaintiffs had failed to establish that they themselves intended to act equitably by abiding
by the terms of ther contracts of employment.
Shaw v Applegate (CA)
The defendant had covenanted not to use property which he had purchased as an
The benefit of this covenant was assigned to the plaintiff, who sued for its breach a
number of years after the breach began.
Held that, to deprive the plaintiff of a legal right on the ground of acquiescence the
situation must be such that it would be dishonest or unconscionable for him to continue
to enforce it.
Since in the years in question, the plaintiffs were confused as to whether there had been
a breach of covenant it could not be said that they had been acting dishonest or
unconscionably, but given the expenditure made and goodwill built up by the defendant,
the appropriate remedy was not an injunction but damages. Jurisdiction to award damages in lieu of an injunction
Shelfer v City of London Electric Lighting Co.
The plaintiffs sued the defendants in order to have an injunction served against the
operation of their engines.
Held that, it is good working rule that where the damage to the plaintiff's legal rights is
A) small, B) capable of being estimated in money and C) can be adequately
compensated in money and D) it would be oppressive to the defendant to award an
injunction, then damages are the appropriate remedy.
There may be cases, although the four requirements above exist, the defendant's conduct
has disentitled himself from asking to be excused an injunction.
In this case the requirements are met and an injunction should be awarded.
Kennaway v Thompson
The plaintiff purchased a house next to a manmade lake which was used by a boat club.
She sued for an injunction to stop the nuisance caused by the club after they increased
the frequency of their activities.
Held that, in cases of continuing nuisance the jurisdiction to award damages ought to be
exercised only under very exceptionable circumstances.
The public interest in this case was not exceptional enough to prevail over private
interests and the plaintiffs are entitled to an injunction.
The injunction must balance the rights of the parties - a restriction on the size of the
engines and a lessening in frequency will achieve this.
Patterson v Murphy (HC)
The plaintiff bought land adjoining a quarry which was a source of noise and dust.
This resulted in shock to the plaintiffs and structural damage to their property, prevented
them from sitting in their garden and eventually required them to leave and live in rented
Held that, when an infringement of the plaintiffs' right and threatened further material
infringement has been established the plaintiff is prima facie entitled to an injunction -
the plaintiff will only be deprived of an injunction in very exceptional circumstances.
If the injury to the plaintiffs' rights is small and is one capable of being estimated in
money and is one which can be adequately compensated by a small money payment and
if the case is one in which it would be oppressive to the defendant to grant an injunction,
then these are circumstances in which damages in lieu of an injunction may be granted.
The conduct of the plaintiff may be such as to disentitle him to an injunction, while the
conduct of the defendant may be such as to disentitle him from seeking the substitution
of damages for an injunction.
The mere fact that a wrongdoer is able and willing to pay for the injury he has inflicted
is not a ground for substituting damages. Principles governing grant of interlocutory injunctions
JT Stratford v v Lindley (HL)
Traditional test: a strong prima facie case, i.e. a probability that he would succeed in his
claim at the hearing of the action.
American Cyanimid Co. v Ethicon (HL)
The plaintiffs sought an interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from selling a
product which they claimed infringed one of their patents.
Held that, the court must first assess whether there is a serious question to be tried -
unless the evidence at the application for an interlocutory injunction establishes that the
plaintiff has no prospect of success, the court should proceed to assess the case on the
balance of convenience.
■ The first step in assessing this balance is to examine whether any loss suffered by
plaintiff between the application and the trial would be capable of being
compensated for in damages and that the defendant would be capable of paying such
damages - in such case no injunction should be granted.
■ If the plaintiff establishes that this is not the case, then the court must examine
whether the restraint imposed upon the defendant could be compensated by the
paintiff - if this is so, then there is no reason not to grant the injunction.
■ Where the inquiries above leave the court in doubt, the best course of action is to
maintain the status quo. Campus Oil v Minister for Energy (SC)
The plaintiffs refused to obey an order made by the defendants, claiming it was contrary
to European law.
The defendants sought an interlocutory injunction to have the plaintiffs abide by the
terms of the order until the determination of the case.
American Cyanimid applied.
Held that, an applicant for an interlocutory injunction must establish first, that there is a
bona fide question to be tried concerning the existence of a right which he seeks to
protect or enforce by the injunction and secondly, that the balance of convenience lies in
favour of granting the injunction.
Since the order had been made by powers granted to the Minister by the Oireachtas,
since it had not been found invalid and since the public loss occasioned by the failure of
the scheme of the order was not quantifiable in damages, the balance of convenience lay
in favour of enforcing the order - although it was unusual to grant an interlocutory
injunction in a mandatory form, it was justified by the special circumstances of this case. Westman Holdings v McCormack
The plaintiffs sought an injunction to prevent the defendants from picketing their
Held that, an interlocutory injunction was appropriate.
While the damage that would otherwise be suffered would be merely pecuniary, the
combination of the inability of individual defendants to pay damages and the possible
immunity from suit of the trade union made it improbable that the plaintiff would be
able to obtain compensation.
On the other hand, the undertaking given by the plaintiff to compensate the defendants
would be adequate to compensate their loss of wages and only their right to picket would
remain uncompensated. Metro International SA v Independent News and Media (HC)
Plaintiff sought an interlocutory injunction restraining the alleged infringement of a
There was a serious issue to be applied and damages were found inadequate.
Whether the adequacy of damages is contained in the assessment of the balance of
convenience or whether it is a standalone test is more an issue of semantics than
In assessing the adequacy or otherwise of damages as a remedy the court should have
regard to whether the right is normally one which it protects by injunction, though, in
one sense, it might be thought capable of assessing the injury in monetary terms. G & T Crampton v BATU (SC)
The plaintiff sought an injunction to prevent the defendants picketing his premises
s. 19(2) of the Industrial Relations Act 1990 provides that once the plaintiff establishes
an entitlement to an interlocutory injunction by showing that there is a fair question to be
tried, the court must consider whether the defendants can establish a fair case that they
were acting in furtherance of a trade dispute - if they can an injunction will not be
Held that, the trial judge was entitled to find that the absence of an effective secret ballot
prior to the strike meant that the conditions of s. 19(2) had not been satisfied. Malincross v BATU (HC)
The plaintiff sought an interlocutory injunction to restrain picketing by the defendants at
a building site, in circumstances where the employer with whom the defendants were in
dispute no longer carried on business at the site.
Held that, although there was secret ballot, it had not indicated the precise nature of the
action to be taken, i.e. a picket of a site no longer operated by the employer, and thus
there was a serious question as to whether such action had actually been authorised by
the ballot - s. 19 required that the union must have the clear support of its members.
Thus the case fell to be determined on the Campus Oil principles. Daru Bricklaying v BATU (HC)
Industrial dispute - injunction sought.
Held that, for the ballot to be valid, the entitlement to vote must accorded equally to all
the members whom it was reasonable at that time for the union to believe would be
called upon to enage in the industrial action.
The onus lay on the defendants to prove that this had been done. Reynolds v Malocco (HC)
The plaintiff sought an injunction to restrain the defendants from a publishing an article
which he claimed was defamatory of him.
Held that, Campus Oil is of wide, but not universal application - in a case such as this,
the plaintiff must establish that there is no doubt that the publication complained of is
Furthermore, if the defendant intends to plead justification or any other recognised
defence, normally an injunction of this type will be refused. Cogley v RTE (HC)
The plaintiff sought to acquire an interlocutory injunction restrainging the publication of
a documentary film, which alleged abuses in her nursing home.
Held that, interlocutory injunctions to restrain publication of allegedly defamatory
material will not be granted if it can be shown that there is reasonable basis for
contending that the defendant will succeed at the trial of the action.
Even in a case where it can be clearly shown that the defendant will not have a defence,
the court retains a discretion not to grant the injunction having regard to all the
circumstances of the case.
In assessing whether to grant an interlocutory injunction restraining publication of
material acquired in breach of privacy, the court must consider the context and
circumstances in which the impugned methods were employed, any special public
interest considerations in favour of broadcasting the programme and the adequacy of
damages as a remedy for any wrong proved at trial.
In this case, the significant public interest value of the material and the fact that damages
would be tailored to the veracity of the accusations militate against the award of an
injuction. Greene v Associated Newspapers (CA)
Plaintiff sought and failed to received an interlocutory injunction against the defendant.
The Court of Appeal held that in an action for defamation, a prior restraint order will not
be imposed unless there is no possibility that the defendant will succeed. NWL v Woods (HL)
Court held that where the practical effect of the order would be to decide the case, the
degree of likelihood that the plaintiff would have succeeded at trial is a factor to be taken
into account. Cayne v Global Natural Resources (CA)
The plaintiffs sought interlocutory injunctions restraining the defendant from allowing
the merger of one of its subsidiaries with another company and from issuing shares to
that company until the trial of the action, unless it first got the approval of its
Where the grant or refusal of such an injunction would have the effect of putting an end
to the action, the court should approach the case on the broad principle of what it can do
in its best endeavour to avoid injustice and balance the risk of doing an injustice to either
Since the grant of an injunction in such case would rob the defendant of his right to
contest the plaintiff's claim at trial and (Eveleigh J) the defendant has substantiated its
defence through affidavits and exhibits, it should not be granted.
Were the plaintiffs to put forward an overwhelming case, it may be that the decision
would be different.
■ It is only in cases where the plaintiff actually wishes to proceed to trial that the
Cyanimid guidelines apply.
■ That being the position the question is whether the plaintiffs can justify such a result
at this stage and given that the defendants still have a fully arguable case, an
interlocutory injunction should not be granted. Lansing Linde v Kerr (CA)
The plaintiff sought an interlocutory injunction to enforce a provision in the defendant's
contract with it, not to take up employment with a competitor of their's within 12 months
of the termination of his employment with them.
Held that, given the interlocutory injunction would decide the issue as the twelve months
would have expired by the time the action came to trial it was not enough to ascertain
whether there was a serious issue to be tried.
In all the circumstances it was unlikely that the worldwide restraint in the contract would
be upheld at trial and thus the trial judge was correct not to grant the injunction.
Redland Bricks v Morris (HL)
As a result of the appellant's excavations on its lands a large pit was left on the
A injunction requiring the appellant to take all necessary steps to restore support to the
respondents' lands was granted and this was appealed.
Held that, mandatory injunctions are entirely discretionary and general principles for its
application can only be set out in the most general of terms:
■ it can only be granted where a plaintiff shows a very strong probability on the facts
that grave damage will accrue to him in the future.
■ it cannot be granted where damages would be
a sufficient or adequate remedy if such damage does happen
■ the cost to the defendant to carry out such actions must be taken into account:
where the actions of the defendant are wanton or unreasonable, then the cost to
him need not be proved proportionate to the benefit to the plaintiff
where the actions of the defendant are wrong, but not unreasonable, then the cost
to him must be carefully assessed because A) no legal wrong has yet occurred
and B) if damage does occur in future, the plaintiff has all his remedies at law
■ if a mandatory injunction is granted, then the court must be careful to see that the
defendant knows exactly what he has to do
In this case, the damage is certain and grave but the appellant has not behaved
unreasonably and the order is too imprecise - thus the injunction must be set aside.
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