Injunctive Relief Law & Legal Definition


Injunctive relief consists of a court order called an injunction, requiring an individual to do or not do a specific action. It is an extraordinary remedy that courts utilize in special cases where preservation of the status quo or taking some specific action is required in order to prevent possible injustice. For example, in a custody case, an injunction may be used to prevent a party from removing a child from the country. Injunctive relief is an equitable remedy granted when money damages are not able to compensate the plaintiff's violation of rights if an injuction is not granted. Failure to comply with a notice of an injunction is punishable by being held in contempt of court.

There are two types of injunctions: a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order (TRO). The purpose of both is to maintain the status quo -- to insure a plaintiff that the defendant will not either make him or herself judgment-proof, or insolvent in some way, or to stop him or her from acting in a harmful way until further judicial proceedings are available. The court uses its discretionary power to balance the defendant's due process rights against the possibility of the defendant becoming judgment-proof, and the immediacy of the threat of harm to the plaintiff. Courts can also issue preliminary injunctions to take effect immediately and effective until a decision is made on a permanent injunction, which can stay in effect indefinitely or until certain conditions are met. In many jurisdictions, plaintiffs demanding an injunction are required to post a bond.