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An injunction is essentially a court order that orders a party to do something or orders a party to refrain from doing something. An injunction may be requested in order to prohibit a building from being demolished, to prevent the media from discussing ongoing litigation, or to force members of a labor union to continue working, just to name a few examples. A preliminary injunction is frequently filed early on in the legal process as a sort of stop-gap procedure until the court can consider the actual merits of the case, at which point it may make the injunction permanent. The process for filing an injunction includes preparing a petition or motion, filing it with the court, and providing the opposing party with a copy of the petition or motion.
A lawsuit can take an extremely long time to make it through all the stages of litigation before the court actually decides the issue. In many cases, the issue in the lawsuit is something that requires an immediate response or irreparable harm may be done to one of the parties. As mentioned above, if a historical building, for instance, is scheduled to be demolished within a matter of days, waiting for the typical legal process to run its course to prevent the demolition is not an option. Situations such as that often call for filing an injunction in order to get an immediate response from the court.
A party who is in need of an immediate court order generally files a motion or petition for preliminary injunction with the court. When filing an injunction for immediate preliminary relief, the party filing the motion must demonstrate to the court that the injunction is needed to prevent irreparable harm and that the court is likely to find for the moving party on the merits of the case among other requirements. Granting an injunction often amounts to making an initial determination on the likely outcome of a lawsuit, which makes courts hesitant to grant them without a good reason. The party filing an injunction must be aware of this hesitation and prepare the motion accordingly.
The party filing an injunction must also provide the opposing party with a copy of the petition or motion. Unlike most rules of civil procedures that often allow the respondent up to 30 days to respond to petitions or motions, a petition or motion for injunction must often be responded to within a few days, or even within hours, depending on the subject matter of the injunction. The time frame for a judge to review and respond to the filing of an injunction is also considerably shorter in most cases due to the often urgent nature of the request.
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