Types of Injunctions in Singapore

Last updated on January 26, 2018

An injunction is a court-ordered remedy awarded to a plaintiff to restrain a defendant from doing an act. Injunctions are usually awarded where damages (or monetary recompense) would be inadequate to compensate the plaintiff. For instance, where construction works in a neighbouring property damages an estate, the owner of the estate may wish to apply to the court for an injunction to stop the continuation of the construction.

How to Obtain an Injunction

Where the matter is urgent, it may be possible to obtain an interim injunction within days. For matters requiring great exigency, the court can even hear the application on weekends and public holidays. Giving notice to the other party is generally necessary in an interim injunction application. In some cases, it may not be appropriate to do so (i.e. where time is of the essence, or where alerting the other party would defeat the purpose of the application). If so, an application may be made ex parte, without giving notice.

In contrast to an interim injunction application which is temporary in nature, the court can also grant a final injunction after holding a trial.

Because of the need to comply with the court rules and procedures, a lawyer should be engaged to act for the applicant of an injunction.

Discharge or Variation of the Injunction

The defendant may of course apply to the court to discharge or vary an injunction granted against him.

Breach of an Injunction

Where the court orders an injunction to restrain a defendant and the defendant wilfully breaches the terms of this injunction, he is liable for contempt of court. If a third party assists the defendant to breach the injunction, he may also be held to be in contempt of court.

Types of Injunctions

Injunctions come in different varieties. The rest of this article provides a brief overview of the different types of injunctions that may be granted by the courts of Singapore.

Final or perpetual injunction

Where the court awards an injunction based on the final determination of a dispute, such an injunction is known as a final or perpetual injunction. A final determination can result from a trial, a summary judgment, or a default judgment.

Interim or interlocutory injunction

An interim or interlocutory injunction is an injunction pending the outcome of a trial or arbitration or any other final determination of a matter. An interim injunction is frequently sought for in matters of great urgency, where the applicant must restrain the defendant even before the dispute is formally resolved by the court or suffer great irreparable losses.

In determining whether an interim injunction ought to be granted, the court must first be persuaded that there is a serious question to be tried (that the claim is not frivolous and vexatious, such that there is some prospect of it succeeding at trial) and that the balance of convenience lies in favour of granting the interim injunction.

Typically, the plaintiff must prove that his losses would not be adequately compensated by monetary damages if the injunction is not granted but this must be weighed against the inconvenience caused to the defendant. The court may grant the relief subject to an undertaking by the plaintiff that he would compensate the defendant if the matter was held at trial that the plaintiff is not entitled to restrain the defendant from doing what he was threatening to do.

Prohibitory injunction

A prohibitory injunction is a court order restraining a party from doing or continuing to do a wrongful act.

Mandatory injunction

A mandatory injunction is a court order compelling a party to perform a positive act. A mandatory injunction may have a similar effect with an order for specific performance.

Mareva injunction

A Mareva injunction freezes the assets of the defendant, preventing the defendant from dissipating his assets in a way that frustrates a judgment. This is to avoid a situation where a crafty defendant, anticipating his eventual loss of a lawsuit, moves his assets out of his bank account and hides these assets so that the successful plaintiff is left with a court award but no assets to enforce against.

A Mareva injunction is typically interim in nature before a final determination is made, but it can also be awarded after such a determination and before the plaintiff successfully enforces his award. It is named after the English case of Mareva Compania Naviera SA v International Bulkcarriers SA.

The Mareva injunction can be domestic or worldwide in nature. A worldwide Mareva injunction freezes the assets of the defendant internationally. To obtain a Mareva injunction, the plaintiff must show that he has a good arguable case against the defendant, and that there is a real risk of dissipation of assets which would render judgment obtained in the proceedings nugatory.

Quia timet injunction

A quia timet injunction is a court order to restrain a party in anticipation that this party is about or is likely to carry out a wrongful act. The court will require proof of actual damage or imminent danger which is not speculative before granting a quia timet injunction.

Anton Piller order (Search order)

An Anton Piller order (also known as a search order) is a court order requiring a party to permit another to enter the former’s premises or property to conduct a search for the preservation or seizure of property or evidence relevant to a dispute. The underlying purpose of such an order is to negate the danger that vital evidence will be destroyed.

The Anton Piller order is named as such after the English case of Anton Piller KG v Manufacturing Processes Ltd. To obtain such an order, the plaintiff must show that he has a very strong case, that the damage suffered by the plaintiff would have been very serious, that there was a real possibility that the defendant would destroy the relevant evidence, and that the effect of the order would not be disproportionate to its objective.