Difference Between Injunction and Restraining Order

Injunction vs Restraining Order
 

Those of us in the legal field are acquainted with the terms injunction and restraining order and know the difference between them clearly. Others might have heard the words in general but are not quite aware of their precise meaning. An Injunction and a Restraining Order represent two types of orders or commands issued by a court of law. Keep in mind that the definition of a Restraining Order may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Thus, the difficulty in identifying the distinction between the two stems from the fact that these terms, prima facie, refer to the same thing. Some jurisdictions classify a Restraining Order as a type of Injunction while others recognise it differently. For the purpose of this article, however, we will identify the distinction between the two based on their general usage and application. Thus, think of an Injunction as an order that compels or prohibits the performance of some act. In contrast, a Restraining Order is a command to refrain from seeing, contacting, harming or harassing another person.

What is an Injunction?

An Injunction is defined as a court order commanding a person to refrain from doing a particular act or to do a particular act. It is recognised as an equitable remedy in law, one that is granted based on the facts of the case and the potential harm that would arise to the plaintiff. Thus, a plaintiff typically requests for an Injunction from the court in circumstances where he/she is of the view that monetary payment or damages will not be sufficient to repair the harm or injury. Injunctions, then, will only be granted if the court determines that there is or will be an irreparable injury caused to the plaintiff. The importance with which such a request is determined and the stance of the court in granting Injunctions implies that such an Order entails an imperative compliance by the defendant. A plaintiff may request for either one or more of the following categories of Injunctions, namely, Permanent Injunctions, Preliminary Injunctions, Prohibitory Injunctions and Mandatory Injunctions.

Many tend to confuse the concept of a Preliminary Injunction with a Restraining Order or Temporary Restraining Order. This is because a Preliminary Injunction is a court order granted as a temporary remedy or protection in order to preserve the status quo of something or a particular situation. Courts typically grant such Injunctions as interim relief until the final hearing for a permanent Injunction is concluded. Examples of Injunctions include orders prohibiting building on another’s land, the cutting of trees, damage or destruction to property, or even orders requiring a person to remove certain structures or blocks. If the defendant fails to comply with an Injunction order, he/she will face a charge of contempt of court.

Difference Between Injunction and Restraining Order

Prohibiting cutting trees is an example of injunction

What is a Restraining Order?

A Restraining Order is defined as an official order issued by court to an individual commanding him/her to refrain from certain actions, typically the complete avoidance of contact with another person. This is a form of immediate relief sought by a person usually for the purpose of obtaining immediate and quick protection. Restraining Orders are issued in relation to several circumstances; however, the reason behind the issuance of such an Order is the protection of the plaintiff from harm or harassment. Unlike an Injunction, there is no hearing or legal process involved when granting a Restraining Order. Once a plaintiff files an application in court for a Restraining Order, the court, after determining the circumstances and nature of the facts, will grant such an Order.

Restraining Orders are popularly known for been granted in domestic violence cases. However, it may also be granted in circumstances relating to employment disputes, harm or harassment caused by an unknown person or even a corporation, copyright infringement disputes and stalking. In most cases, Restraining Orders are sought by a plaintiff as a form of temporary protection until he/she can obtain the remedy of Permanent Injunction, a process that may entail a lengthy period. Unlike an Injunction, a Restraining Order focuses on restricting the actions of a person and to prevent such a person from causing harm or harassment to another. Thus, such orders command a person to cease all communication with another and avoid meeting or threatening that person in any form. Restraining Orders are not permanent. They are usually granted for a few weeks, 3 or 6 months. Violation of a Restraining Order will result in either a charge of contempt of court, payment of a fine or even a jail sentence.

 Injunction vs Restraining Order

A plaintiff request for a restraining order

What is the difference between Injunction and Restraining Order?

Therefore, the ideal way to distinguish an Injunction from a Restraining Order is to remember the circumstances in which such Orders are issued.

• Definition of Injunction and Restraining Order:

• An Injunction is a writ or court order compelling or prohibiting the performance of some act.

• In contrast, a Restraining Order is an order issued by court commanding a person to refrain from certain activity, harming or harassing another.

• Reasons for granting Injunction and Restraining Order:

• An injunction is an equitable remedy in law granted at the discretion of the court. The decision is based on the facts of the case and the potential harm that would arise to the plaintiff.

• Restraining Orders are typically viewed as immediate and temporary protection measures, protecting a person from harm or harassment by another. A Restraining Order focuses on restricting the actions of a person and to prevent such a person from causing harm or harassment to another.

• Legal Process in granting Injunction and Restraining Order:

• Injunction is issued after a legal process. The court will look into the plaintiff’s request for an Injunction with great caution and grant it only if it is satisfied that the plaintiff’s rights have been violated and an irreparable injury is or will be caused.

• In contrast, there is no hearing or legal process involved when granting a Restraining Order.

• Circumstances in which Injunction and Restraining Order are granted:

• Injunction is issued mostly in civil cases, in circumstances where the plaintiff is of the view that monetary payment or damages will not be sufficient to repair the harm or injury.

• Restraining Order, although popularly granted in domestic violence cases or family cases, it is also granted in instances relating to workplace harassment, harassment by organizations and stalking cases.

• Nature and Period:

• An Injunction may be permanent, preliminary, prohibitory, or mandatory.

• Restraining Orders are not permanent. They are usually granted for a few weeks, 3 or 6 months.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Cutting a tree bHustvedt (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Lady Justice by ChvhLR10 (CC BY-SA 3.0)