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What is an Injunctive Relief?

By Alexis W.
Updated May 16, 2024
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Injunctive relief is a type of legal remedy that can be sought in a civil suit. Injunctive relief is an alternative to monetary damages. It can be awarded to a plaintiff in addition to, or instead of, monetary damages.

Injunctive relief refers to an order by the court that the defendant cease a specific behavior. The plaintiff who sues for injunctive relief will request the specific behavior in question be stopped. The court will evaluate the plaintiff's request, and the reasons behind it, and issue an injunction if the plaintiff has a sound legal right to make the defendant stop.

Injunctive relief, or an injunction, is an appropriate remedy if the plaintiff is being harmed by the defendant's actions in a way that money cannot fully compensate for. For example, if a plaintiff owns a rare and valuable painting that the defendant is about to destroy, the plaintiff may seek an injunction and request the court bar the defendant from destroying the painting. Since monetary damages for the replacement value of the painting would not be sufficient to compensate the plaintiff fully for his damages, the judge may order an injunction.

Injunctions have been sought in order to protect trade secrets. Injunctions have also been requested to protect a person's reputation. Injunctions are the appropriate remedy in any situation where, if the defendant is not ordered to cease doing an action, the plaintiff will not be able to be compensated.

In certain contexts, injunctions are known by other names. For example, an injunction prohibiting the press to release a particular story or piece of information may be called a "gag order." An injunction can also be referred to as a temporary restraining order.

Injunctions can be temporary or permanent. A temporary injunction can be granted pending the outcome of a full trial if the plaintiff can demonstrate that the injunction must be granted immediately to prevent irreversible harm. The plaintiff must show a legal right to make the defendant cease the unwanted behavior.

A permanent injunction forever bars the defendant from doing the specific action in question. Permanent injunctions are granted only in situations where the plaintiff has a clear legal right to stop the behavior. The plaintiff's right to the injunction must be weighed against the defendant's right to liberty and freedom of action. Such injunctions are relatively rare.

An injunction is considered an equitable remedy. A party who violates an injunction may be subject to sanctions including monetary fines. In certain situations, a defendant who violates an injunction may also be held in contempt of court for disobeying a legal order; this could then invoke criminal penalties.

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Discussion Comments

By anon355834 — On Nov 19, 2013

I was hit by an uninsured driver and wish to receive compensation for the damages. Can I take the person to small claims or is that considered injuntive relief?

By anon297442 — On Oct 16, 2012

I own a property in Fredericksburg, VA. I've been in a bit of a bind for the past two years with my finances due to extended and current family medical bills, along with the regular monthly bills.

I joined a program (NACA) in July and had most of my paperwork processed for a modification or restructured loan concerning my mortgage with Bank Of America. NACA, however, dropped the ball in forwarding my paperwork over to my mortgage bank in a timely manner. Now, my home is in public record for foreclosure next month, at auction. NACA is now pushing my paperwork because I kept hounding them concerning the processing of my paperwork! It's now coming down to the wire.

A friend at the job who owns more than one home, said I could file an action of "injunction" with my County court and remove the auction date, like immediately. I'm not too sure how to go about it in terms of the language to be placed on the document expressing a stop and relief of such action. Nor am I even familiar with the document itself. If anyone has professional knowledge about this, please advise.

By FootballKing — On Oct 06, 2010

@summertime, I can empathize with your issues concerning injunctive relief but as I am sure you and your lawyer know, there is an appeal process that is available to you and I urge you to use it as sometimes it is the only route to take when trying to achieve a proper placement of justice.

As a representative of abused women we must take into consideration that physical abuse doesn't always have hard evidence available for a judge or jury to analyze. Because of this many courts have taken to more loosely authorize restraining orders for the sheer physical protection that it offers on short term basis until more effort can be made on a decision.

By summertime — On Oct 06, 2010

@spreadsheet, while I appreciate your personal experience I can guarantee you that injuntive relief and its specific legal action can actually be damaging and a horrible experience if not applied properly by the courts.

I also have been through a terrible divorce, one where many lies were spread and I was accused of physical abuse of my wife. While my friends, family and neighbors knew this to not be the case and that my wife was in fact a compulsive liar, the courts still issues a restraining against me.

The worst part of this is that no physical evidence existed to support these claims and I was forbidden from seeing my children because of the action. This just doesn't seem fair that the claims of one in a civil court can lead the separation of children from their father.

I know that real abusive situations do exist but there has to be a better way at applying the use of injunctive relief. With such a powerful legal action there has to be more stringent evidence sought when approving an order of the court.

By spreadsheet — On Oct 06, 2010

I think the use of injunctive relief to compensate victims in civil action cases is very important to the proper administration of justice in this nation. Obviously monetary values cannot replace or makeup for the variety of damages and loss that have or will occur to a victim or a victim's possessions.

The most obvious type of injunction that has absolutely necessary and useful purpose is retraining orders.

As the divorcee of an abusive spouse I cannot describe to you how important it is to have the court of law on your side in a physically threatening and damaging situation.

Injunctive relief actually allowed for the fear of my husband beating and my children to subside as a simple phone call to the police made our safety possible and enforceable.

Beyond the physical protections that this type of legal action can have for victims of abuse and physical threat, there is also great merit in the way that it protects intellectual rights.

While I am no lawyer, I do believe that injuctive relief is the process and legal action that can stop a rival company from continuing to use illegally obtained trade secrets. If it is deemed appropriate and verifiable by a court of law, one company can sue and requested an injunction for their rival to cease and desist with whatever action or element they have been found guilty of.

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