Injunctions in Civil Litigation: Understanding the Rules

When Courts Intervene: The Power of Injunctions Explained

Injunctions in Civil Litigation


An injunction is a judicial order whereby a person is required to do or to refrain from doing, certain acts. In more detail, an injunction is a writ framed according to the circumstances of the case commanding an act which the court regards as essential to justice, or restraining an act which it esteems contrary to equity and good conscience.

It has been described as a remedial writ that a court issues for the purpose of enforcing its equity jurisdiction, as a mere process by which the court enforces equity, and as a writ commonly used by a court of equity as an incident to the enforcement of its commands and decrees. The injunction is an extraordinary remedy, and like mandamus and prohibition, is one which is reserved for really extraordinary cases.  In this article, we will focus on injunctions in civil cases under the Specific Relief Act and the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC). We will also explore the different types of injunctions, their applicability, and provisions related to injunctions in other countries.

You may also read General Principles Governing the Issuance and Refusal of Injunctive Relief

Relevant Provisions:

In Pakistan, the following provisions of law provide for this type of relief:

(i) Code of Civil Procedure
  • a) Section 94(c) empowers the court to grant temporary Injunction and to punish for its disobedience.
  • (b) Order 39 R(1) & (2) sets out the cases in which such Injunctions may be issued,
(ii) Specific Relief Act 1877: Sections 52-57 enact the law relating to permanent injunctions.

Meaning and Definition of Injunction 

The term “Injunction” has been defined differently by different authors. Following are some of the important definitions of the injunction. 

(1) Halsbury’s Laws of England

An injunction is a judicial process whereby a party is ordered to refrain from doing or to do a particular act or thing. In the former case, it is called a restrictive injunction, and in the latter a mandatory injunction. 

(2) Corpus Juris Secundum 

An injunction is a writ framed according to the circumstances of the case commanding an act which the court regards as essential to justice, or restraining an act which it esteems contrary to equity and good conscience. 

(3) Black’s Law Dictionary 

Injunction is “A court order prohibiting someone from doing some specified act or commanding someone to undo some wrong or injury.”

(4) Snell’s Principles Of Equity

Injunction is an order of the court to a party to the proceedings to do or to refrain from doing a specified act. It is granted in cases in which monetary compensation affords an inadequate remedy to the injured party.

(5) Maitland’s Lectures on Equity

As Maitland puts it, the injunction “is an order made by the court forbidding a person or class of persons from doing a certain act, or acts of, a certain class, upon pain of going to prison as condemners of the court. The penalty is not mentioned in the injunction, but if knowing of an injunction you break it, then the court has a large discretionary power of sending you to prison and keeping you there.”

(6) Barney’s Encyclopaedia of The Laws of England 

In Barney’s Encyclopaedia of the Laws of England, it is defined as a‘ “judicial process by which one, who was invalid or is threatening to invade the rights legal or equitable of another is restrained from continuing or commencing such wrongful act.”

[2010 MLD 1267 Karachi]

An injunction is a writ framed according to the circumstances of the case commanding an act that the Court regards as essential to justice or restraining an act, which it esteems contrary to equity and good conscience. An injunction as is well known is an equitable remedy and accordingly is to conform to the well-known maxim of the Law of Equity that "he who seeks equity must do equity". The law as contained in the Specific Relief Act is governed by the aforesaid principle, therefore, a plaintiff who asks for an injunction must be able to satisfy the Court that his own acts and dealings in the matter have been fair, honest, and free from any taint or illegality and that if in dealing with the person against whom he seeks the relief, he has acted in an unfair or un­equitable manner, he cannot have this relief. 

Origin and History of Injunctive Relief

Origin of injunctions in the Interdicts injunctions were derived from, and are the modern counterpart, of the interdicts of Roman law. An interdictum was a special edict. Edicta were orders addressed by the Magistrates to the community at large; interdicto were orders issued to parties in particular cases. Such an order was termed interdictum, i.e., edictum inter duos, inter dicere as contrasted with edicere.

Essentials for the Grant of Injunction 

The conditions must exist before an applicant applies to the Court for the grant of an injunction:

(1)  The Violation of a Legal Right

The first thing incumbent on the applicant is to show there is in question a duty enforceable by law, or, in other words since duties correlate with rights, that there is a legal right which has been violated or threatened with violation by the defendant.

(2) A Right Must be Vested in the Applicant:

Not only must there be a legal right in existence but it must be vested in the applicant for an injunction. There must be in the language of the Specific Relief Act, “an obligation existing in favor of the applicant.” 

It is essential that the plaintiff shows not merely an injury (actual or prospective) caused by the act of the defendant; but that the act in question is an infraction of some right vested in the plaintiff, or an omission of something which the defendant was legally bound to do. 

(3) Grant of Injunction Must be Just And Convenient 

According to the Judicature Act of 1873, an injunction may be granted or a receiver appointed by an interlocutory order of the Court in all cases in which it shall appear to the Court to be just or convenient that such order should be made; and any such order may be made either unconditionally or upon such term and conditions as the Court shall think just; and if an injunction is asked, either before or at, or after, the hearing of any cause or matter, to prevent any threatened or apprehended waste or trespass, such injunction may be granted if the Court shall think fit, whether the person against whom, such injunction is sought is or is not in possession under any claim of title or otherwise, or (if out of possession) does or does not claim a right to do the act sought to be restrained under any color of title; and whether the estate claimed by both or by either of the party is legal or equitable.”

Kinds of Injunction:

Injunctions are of several kinds, the major types being permanent injunctions, temporary injunctions, and restraining orders. Considered from another point of view, there are three permissible phases in an injunction proceeding: a restraining order granted against defendant, with or without notice or hearing a temporary injunction granted after notice and summary hearing; and a permanent injunction granted after pleadings are made up and evidence is fully developed. Temporary injunctions may be referred to as preliminary injunctions, and permanent injunctions as perpetual injunctions, and further classification of injunctions recognized as between preventive or prohibitive injunctions and mandatory injunctions.

(1) Preliminary, Temporary, or Interlocutory Injunction

A temporary injunction, also referred to as an interlocutory injunction or preliminary injunction is a procedural device, interlocutory or provisional in nature, which is granted at the commencement of a suit before there has been a determination of the rights of the parties, and which ordinarily preserves the subject in controversy in its then existing condition pending such a determination. This is so whether the injunction is prohibitory or mandatory. Temporary injunctions are granted for a limited period, pending the final disposal of a case. They are granted to maintain the status quo until the court can decide on the case's merits. A temporary injunction can be granted ex parte (without the other party being heard) or after hearing both parties. The court can also grant an interim injunction if the circumstances of the case require it.

(a) Object and Nature: 

As a preventive remedy, it seeks to prevent threatened wrong, further injury, and irreparable harm or injustice until the rights of the parties can be settled. Such relief will accordingly protect the ability of the court to render a meaningful decision. 

(b) Legal Effect:

It is not the function of a preliminary injunction to determine the merits of a case or to decide controverted facts, and it is not a means for obtaining a piecemeal adjudication of the merits. It is not a means whereby an opinion as to the applicable law may be extracted from an appellate court in advance of a final hearing, and whether and by what court it is granted or denied does not affect the law of the case on the merits. 

(c) Further Kinds of Temporary Injunction 

  • (i) Status quo order: It is an injunctive order for preserving and maintaining the existing state of things at any given date. 
  • (ii) Ad interim Injunction/Temporary restraining order: This type of injunctive order is granted on the very day when the case comes before the court without first, notifying the defendant, keeping in view. the urgency of the situation.
Temporary injunction could be granted at initial stage in order to maintain the status quo or avoid multiplicity of proceedings or preserve suit property from being wasted or further alienated. [2011 MLD  138 PESH] 

Injunction could not be granted to prevent the breach of a contract the performance of which would not be specifically enforced. Contract which could not be enforced by a decree for specific performance, could not be negatively enforced by the issuance of a temporary injunction. [2021  CLC  488  ISLAMABAD]

Plaintiff cannot seek a permanent or temporary injunction through a separate application unless he seeks consequential relief of temporary or permanent injunction in the suit/plaint. [2019  MLD  1550]

(2) Permanent or Perpetual Injunction

A permanent or perpetual injunction is one granted by the judgment which finally disposes of the injunction suit. Such an injunction terms a part of the judgment on a hearing on the merits, and it can properly be ordered only on the final judgment. Injunctions of the class are in no sense provisional remedies but are always, and must be final relief. It has been observed that permanent injunctions are permanent so long as the conditions which produce the injunction remain permanent. In order to grant relief on the merits of the case by perpetual injunction, it is not a pre-requisite that a temporary injunction should have been applied for and granted.

Perpetual injunctions are granted to prevent the repetition of a wrongful act or to prevent a threatened injury from occurring. These injunctions are granted after the court has heard the case's merits and found that the plaintiff is entitled to such relief.

(3) Preventive, Prohibitive, or Prohibitory Injunction

An injunction may compel a person to do as well as to refrain from doing, and an injunction is mandatory or preventive according to whether it directs a person to do a particular thing or to refrain from doing an act. An injunction of the latter type has been described as preventive, prohibitive, prohibitory, or negative.

Such an injunction may operate to prevent a threatened but non-existent injury, preserve the status quo, or restrain the continued commission of an ongoing wrong; it cannot be used to redress a consummated wrong or to undo what has been done. 

(4) Mandatory Injunction

A mandatory injunction is an equitable remedial process, extraordinary in nature, which is resorted to usually for the purpose of effectuating full and complete justice. Such an injunction commands the performance of some positive act, although not every judicial order which contains words of command is a mandatory injunction. Indeed, mandatory injunctions are merely granted, and it has been noted that the courts are more reluctant to grant a mandatory injunction than a prohibitory one, that the requirements for the issuance of a mandatory injunction are stricter than for the issuance of a prohibitory one.

Significance Of Injunctions

(1) Injunction as a Kind of Specific Relief 

Specific relief may, in brief, be explained as relief in specie. It is a remedy that aims at the exact fulfillment of an obligation. So a specific relief is directed to the obtaining of the very thing that a party under the law is entitled to ask for. The injunction is a kind of specific relief. Section 5 of the Act lays down that specific relief can be given by preventing a party from doing that which he is under an obligation not to do. Such specific relief is called preventive relief. Preventive relief is granted at the discretion of the Court by Injunction, temporary or perpetual.

(2) Injunction as a Preventive Relief 

The injunction has been styled the “strong arm” of equity to be used only to prevent irreparable injury to him who seeks its aid. The object of this order or decree is generally protective and preventive rather than retroactive, though it is not necessarily confined to the former. It is ordinarily used to prevent wrongs and injuries either to persons or to their property. It may also in some cases be used to reinstate the rights of persons to property of which they have been deprived. 

(3) Injunction as a Protective Relief 

The manner in which the aid is given by courts of Equity is, of course, dependent on circumstances. But that portion of equitable jurisdiction which consists in the administration of protective or preventive justice is not limited to this. The courts also interfere by orders to pay funds into courts, by direction to give security, by orders for the detention and preservation of property by other like orders and directions, and by the appointment of a Receiver to receive rents or other income, thus adapting their relief to the precise nature of the particular case and remedial justice required by it; the object is in all cases to preserve property to its appropriate uses and ends. The protection of property which is the subject of litigation by requiring it to be brought into court is an important part of the court’s jurisdiction. 

(4) Injunction as a Prerogative Writ 

The writ of injunction is not itself a prerogative writ, but it is sometimes put to prerogative purposes, for example, when it is issued out on behalf of the Sovereign or State in aid of the jurisdiction to enforce trusts and prevent public nuisances or to enjoin the abuse of trust power.

Allen, J., said: “It is well settled in England that in the right of the prerogative of the Crown, the Attorney General, in the name of his office, may proceed either by information or by bill in Equity to prevent the misappropriation or misapplication of the funds or the property raised or held for public use.”

Grounds for Granting Injunctions

Order 39 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) deals with injunctions. Section 52-57 of the Specific Relief Act,  also provides for injunctions. Under these provisions, there are several grounds on which a court can grant an injunction. These grounds are discussed in detail below:

Prima facie case:

A prima facie case refers to a case where the plaintiff has a strong enough case on the merits to justify the grant of an injunction. The court will examine the facts of the case and determine whether the plaintiff has a good arguable case. If the court is satisfied that there is a prima facie case, it may grant an injunction.

Irreparable Loss:

Irreparable injury refers to harm or damage that cannot be compensated for by monetary damages. In other words, if the plaintiff suffers an irreparable injury, he cannot be adequately compensated by monetary damages alone. For instance, if a person is about to sell his ancestral property, and the sale would cause him irreparable loss, the court may grant an injunction to prevent the sale.

Irreparable loss: Loss that could be measured in terms of money, could not be termed as "irreparable loss". [2000  PLD  4  PESH]

As plaintiffs claimed damages against defendant through the suit, the same had established that money was adequate relief for them and the agreement was incapable of being specifically performed, therefore, no injunction could be granted by the court on the basis of the agreement. Injunction under S.54 of Specific Relief Act, 1877, could be granted if it was proved to the court that no standard existed for the calculation of damages suffered by the party to the contract and that pecuniary compensation could not be obtained. Plaintiffs claimed damages in the suit and the same had shown that loss if any suffered by plaintiffs could be ascertained in terms of money and, therefore, plaintiffs were not entitled for grant of injunction. [2010  MLD  518  Karachi]

Balance of convenience:

Balance of convenience refers to the relative hardship that would be caused to each party if an injunction is granted or not granted. The court will consider the interests of both parties and determine whether the balance of convenience lies in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant. If the balance of convenience favors the plaintiff, the court may grant an injunction.

Preventing Irreparable Harm

Injunctions are granted to prevent irreparable harm, which cannot be compensated by damages. For example, if a person is about to cut down trees on another person's property, the court may grant an injunction to prevent the person from doing so.

Preservation of Property

Injunctions are also granted to preserve property or assets. For example, if a person is about to dispose of assets that are subject to a dispute, the court may grant an injunction to prevent the person from doing so.

Breach of Contract

Injunctions are also granted to prevent the breach of a contract or to compel the performance of a contractual obligation. For example, if a person has agreed to sell a property but refuses to do so, the court may grant an injunction to compel the person to perform the contractual obligation. Rule 2, O. 39, C. P. C. regulates grant of temporary injunction against apprehended breach of contract

Public Interest

Injunctions are also granted in the public interest to prevent a person from engaging in illegal or harmful activities. For example, if a person is about to construct a building in violation of the building code, the court may grant an injunction to prevent the person from doing so.

Injunction not to be granted where interests of public health demand otherwise [1965 PLD 339     DHAKA]

If any of the three ingredients i.e. prima facie case; balance of convenience; and irreparable loss was hissing, plaintiff was not entitled to temporary injunction. [2006  YLR  856 LAHORE]

Provisions of Injunctions from different countries:

Injunctions are an essential legal remedy in many countries around the world. In this section, we will discuss some of the provisions related to injunctions in different countries.

United States

Injunctions in the United States are governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) and state laws. Some relevant provisions include:

  • FRCP Rule 65: This rule governs preliminary injunctions, temporary restraining orders, and permanent injunctions. It sets out the requirements for obtaining and granting injunctions.
  • 28 U.S. Code 1651: This statute authorizes federal courts to issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions.
  • State laws: Each state has its own laws governing injunctions, which may differ from federal law.

United Kingdom

Injunctions in the United Kingdom are governed by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and common law. Some relevant provisions include:

  • CPR Part 25: This part of the rules governs injunctions. It sets out the requirements for obtaining and granting injunctions, including interim, freezing, and final injunctions.
  • Section 37 of the Senior Courts Act 1981: This section grants courts the power to grant injunctions in all cases where it appears to be just and convenient to do so.
  • Common law: The courts in the UK also rely on common law principles in granting and enforcing injunctions.


Injunctions in Australia are governed by federal and state laws. Some relevant provisions include:

  • Federal Court Rules 2011: These rules govern injunctions in the Federal Court of Australia. They set out the requirements for obtaining and granting injunctions, including interlocutory, preliminary, and final injunctions.
  • State laws: Each state and territory in Australia has its own laws governing injunctions, which may differ from federal law.


Injunctions in India are governed by the Specific Relief Act, 1963, and the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908. Some relevant provisions include:

  • Section 38 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963: This section grants courts the power to grant temporary, perpetual, and mandatory injunctions in certain cases.
  • Order 39 of the CPC: This order sets out the requirements for obtaining and granting injunctions in India. It includes provisions for temporary, perpetual, and mandatory injunctions.

It's worth noting that the provisions and sections mentioned here are not exhaustive, and there may be other relevant laws and regulations in each country.

Leading Case Laws on Injunctions from all over the world:

United States

  • eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C. (2006): In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a plaintiff seeking a permanent injunction in a patent infringement case must prove that (1) it has suffered an irreparable injury, (2) remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury, (3) considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted, and (4) the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction.
  • Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. (2008): In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that in order to obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must demonstrate (1) a likelihood of success on the merits, (2) a likelihood of irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, (3) that the balance of equities tips in its favor, and (4) that an injunction is in the public interest.

United Kingdom

  • American Cyanamid Co (No 1) v Ethicon Ltd [1975] AC 396: This case is often cited as the leading authority on interim injunctions in the UK. The House of Lords held that in order to grant an interim injunction, the court must be satisfied that (1) there is a serious question to be tried, (2) the balance of convenience favors granting the injunction, and (3) damages would not be an adequate remedy.
  • R v Secretary of State for the Home Department, ex p Northumbria Police Authority [1989] 1 WLR 437: In this case, the court held that a public authority may be restrained by injunction if it acts outside its powers or unlawfully.


  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation v O'Neill (2006) 227 CLR 57: In this case, the High Court of Australia held that a court may grant a permanent injunction if it is just and convenient to do so, taking into account all relevant factors.
  • Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd v Sharman License Holdings Ltd (2005) 220 ALR 1: In this case, the Federal Court of Australia granted an interim injunction to prevent the defendants from continuing to operate a peer-to-peer file sharing network that facilitated copyright infringement.


  • ITC Limited v. Punchgini Silk Processors Pvt. Ltd. (2011): In this case, the Delhi High Court held that a temporary injunction can be granted in cases where there is a prima facie case in favor of the plaintiff, irreparable loss or injury will be caused to the plaintiff, and the balance of convenience lies in favor of the plaintiff.
  • Shiv Shankar Dal Mills v. State of Haryana (2018): In this case, the Supreme Court of India held that an ex-parte injunction can be granted only in exceptional cases where irreparable harm or injury would be caused to the plaintiff if the injunction is not granted immediately. The court also emphasized that such injunctions should be granted cautiously and not as a matter of course.


The injunction is an equitable remedy, and has been held the principal and the most important process issued by courts of equity; in fact, it has been characterized as the strong arm of equity. The function or purpose of an injunction is to restrain action or interference of some kind, to furnish preventive relief against irreparable mischief or injury, or to preserve the status quo. As otherwise stated, the function of injunctive relief is to restrain motion and to enforce inaction, and the remedy is preventive, prohibitory, protective, or restorative, as warranted by the case presented. The law of injunctions is extremely practical; it does not deal with anything but specific facts.

Read also:
Highly accomplished, meticulously organized, and detailed Attorney with a proven track record of success in conducting legal research, analysis, trial preparation, and document drafting.