Emergency Injunctions

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Emergency injunctions (freezing and search and seizure orders)

These orders are considered to be the most draconian orders which an English Court can grant, “the nuclear option”.  They are normally made on the urgent application of one party without notice to the other and can immediately put unbelievable pressure on a Defendant.  If the Defendant is within the jurisdiction of the English Court and fails to comply with the Court’s order he can be faced by an application for contempt of Court, punishable by a prison sentence.  Such orders can ultimately also affect a person’s ability to travel elsewhere, particularly within the EC.  How this will be affected by Brexit remains unclear at the moment.

A freezing order usually freezes a Defendant’s bank accounts and assets up to a specified amount, granting the Defendant a weekly living allowance and some monies to use for legal costs.  A freezing order is often combined with a search and seizure injunction which is designed to ensure that control and possession of critical documentation, property or evidence is preserved and not destroyed pending trial.  Such an order permits a Claimant’s lawyer to enter the Defendant’s premises (with a third party solicitor) to search and remove specific property.  It can even authorise a computer sweep.

Usually the evidence portrays the Defendant in the worst possible light.  However the evidence must be clear and complete; a failure to disclose material information can prove disastrous.

These orders can be calamitous for a Defendant.  Their cumulative effect can be to damage his business by freezing most of its assets and forcing him to reveal important information which may be of critical use to his competitors.  However it is crucial for the Defendant to appreciate that if he is ordered to reveal his assets to the Court and the Claimant, he must do so even if the Defendant intends to apply to set aside the orders.  Non-compliance to produce the information will be considered a contempt of Court.

Understandably a Defendant can feel aggrieved but it is essential to keep calm and to work hard to persuade the Court he is not “the baddie”. Obtaining and responding to these orders is costly, time is of the essence and requires the lawyers to get up to speed very quickly indeed and requires a lot of strategic thinking.  Hence experience counts and we at GSC have handled such pressure many times.  We can walk with you through the experience.

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+44(0)20 7822 2222
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