In the newspaper and on television we are often told that someone has been granted an injunction to prevent someone else from doing something. How does an injunction work?
An injunction is a court order used to protect certain rights usually property rights. The order can be temporary or permanent. Temporary injunctions can be received on short notice. This is a main reason why they are used. It can take months or years for a normal court case to be heard in Ontario.
Lets take an example: renovations are being done to your next door neighbor’s house and heavy machinery has been crossing over a portion of your lawn. The machinery is causing damage to your lawn. If the builders refuse to stop this trespassing, you would be forced to start a lawsuit. But by the time you go to court, the construction might be finished and there may be nothing left of your lawn.
In this example, you would instruct your lawyer to start a lawsuit for the damage already caused. But your lawyer could also apply immediately for an injunction, an order to have the trespassing stopped now before more damage is done.
An injunction can be one of two types: it can prevent someone from doing something crossing your lawn, in our example or it can force someone to do something, to take positive steps, possibly to repair damage that has been caused. It is much more difficult to get an injunction of the second type. In some cases, a lawyer will be able to get an order that does both of these things.
In certain cases, often emergencies, you can get an immediate or temporary injunction without giving any notice to the opponent.
How do you actually get the injunction? Your lawyer will have to find a judge to sign the order. Usually, of course, you find a judge in court or in the chambers or at the court office. Injunctions in emergencies can create some strange situations. Emergencies don’t always take place during office hours. There have been cases of judges signing orders at family picnics or on the shoulder of a road.