What Is an Injunction?
If you are a business owner, regardless of the type or size of your business, you can almost count on eventually being involved in litigation of some sort. Whether the litigation is initiated by you or you are responding to a complaint by another party, commercial litigation is virtually impossible to escape if you are fortunate enough to remain in business long enough. When you do find yourself embroiled in a lawsuit, you may find yourself requesting an injunction or find yourself the target of a request for an injunction. Because of the individual nature of a lawsuit, only an experienced Pennsylvania commercial litigation lawyer can explain in detail how an injunction would affect your specific dispute; however, because requests for injunctions are relatively common it may be beneficial to have at least a basic understanding of what an injunction is and when a court is likely to grant a request for one.
Commercial Litigation Basics
“Commercial litigation” is a broad term that refers to legal action that is based on any type of business transaction. At the core of every lawsuit is a dispute. Some common types of disputes that lead to commercial litigation include:
Claims of copyright or patent infringement
Civil claims based on securities fraud
Consumer fraud claims
What Is an Injunction?
An injunction is simply a court order that orders a party to do something, or to refrain from doing something. What makes an injunction unique, in legal terms, is that a party may seek an injunction before the lawsuit is actually litigated. As a general rule, a court will not make decisions regarding the merits of a case before both sides have had the opportunity to be heard on the matter. An injunction can be an exception to this rule. A restraining order, for example, is a type of injunction. A court may issue a temporary restraining order at the beginning of a lawsuit that prevents a party from doing something or that requires that party to do something. An injunction may be temporary or permanent. A permanent injunction is part of a final judgment entered at the end of a lawsuit; however, a temporary injunction can be entered at any time prior to the conclusion of the litigation. For example, imagine that a dispute arises with regard to the oil and mineral rights on a track of land. The party not in possession of the land might ask a judge to issue a temporary injunction prohibiting the party in possession from extracting oil or minerals, or otherwise interfering with the land, until the issue of ownership of the rights has been decided.
When Is an Injunction Appropriate?
Why are injunctions issued before both parties have the opportunity to fully present their arguments? Because the goal of an injunction is to maintain the status quo, or prevent further harm, while the lawsuit is pending. Although the American judicial system is founded in the concept of fair play, meaning both sides of a dispute are to be given the opportunity to fully advocate for their side, there are often situations where considerable harm could come from waiting for the outcome of that litigation. When that is the case, an injunction might be appropriate.
How Does a Court Decide Whether or Not to Grant Injunctive Relief?
Because an injunction is granted prior to the case being fully litigated, and sometimes without one side even being allowed the opportunity to respond, judges do not grant injunctions lightly. Before a temporary injunction will be issued, Pennsylvania courts typically require a party to show that the party will “suffer immediate and irreparable harm” if an injunction is nor issued. Moreover, the party requesting injunctive relief must show that a greater injustice and/or harm will occur if the injunction is not granted against the harm that will occur if the injunction is granted before a judge will order an injunction.
When a legal problem requires immediate action to prevent further harm, an injunction may be the answer. If you are involved in, or foresee the likelihood of becoming involved in, commercial litigation in Pennsylvania that may require injunctive relief, contact an experienced Conshohocken, Pennsylvania business law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. Contact the business law attorneys at Curley & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819 today to schedule your free consultation.