There are many reasons for pursuing legal action, and one of the most common is to stop a defendant from a course of action that breaches a contract or is doing some kind of harm. Though the hope is that the end of the trial will bring the outcome that the plaintiffs seek, there are some instances where more immediate action may be required in order to prevent the harm being done with each passing day. That action is known as an emergency injunction.

Emergency injunctions are legal pleas for the court to take action to preserve the status quo while the legal process is underway. The idea is that unless the court intervenes, irreparable harm will be done. Imagine a case involving a piece of land on which a historic building is located. The owner of the land wants to knock the building down to build a lucrative condominium building, while a landmark preservation society wants the building protected, and files suit to secure that outcome. If, during the course of the legal proceedings the landowner decides to begin demolition, an emergency injunction would be the appropriate action. It would stop the irreparable harm from taking place and provides the plaintiff with time to prepare evidence in support of a longer-lasting preliminary injunction that would extend throughout the legal proceedings.

There are many different reasons why a business might need to pursue an emergency injunction. In litigation over non-compete agreements an emergency injunction might prevent a former employer or executive from pursuing your clients or going to another firm. A manufacturer in a dispute with a supplier might seek an emergency injunction compelling them to continue providing supplies until another source can be located. Intellectual property disputes might require an emergency injunction for a competitor to discontinue their use of trademarks or copyrighted material.

An emergency injunction allows you to stop damage from being done, and a court will require proof that you are likely to prevail in your lawsuit on the merits as well as that you will suffer irreparable harm if the relief isn’t provided. It is only when they see that stepping in offers the best alternative that they will use their broad authority to do so, and their intervention is likely to be modest. It is meant to provide just enough of a guardrail for your attorney to pursue further injunctive action.

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