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What should I know about injunctive relief in Delaware?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2022 | Corporate Litigation

Injunctive relief is a powerful legal remedy. If granted, a request for an injunction will result in a court requirement that the other party stop or take a specific action to reduce the risk of irreparable harm. This legal remedy can prove especially useful in merger and acquisition deals as well as breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty claims.

The two main forms of injunctive relief available at the Delaware Court of Chancery are the preliminary and mandatory injunction.

#1: Preliminary injunction.

This form of relief involves a court order that requires the subject stop performing a certain action when adequate relief is not available through the underlying legal action. Delaware’s Court of Chancery generally requires the requesting party meet the following elements before it will grant a request for a preliminary injunction:

  • Reasonable probability of success on its merits
  • Immediate irreparable harm without the court’s intervention
  • Balance of equities, the harm of requesting party (plaintiff) exceeds harm of the party subject to the injunction (defendant)

This is either requested in the initial compliant or filed through a separate motion. It is generally a three-step process: request a hearing in the cover letter to the court, include copies of the compliant and the motion for the preliminary injunction, and provide reasoning or the need for an expedited hearing. The filing party must also provide notice to the opposing party. If granted, the injunction is generally set to expire at the time of resolution — either judicial or through settlement — but the court could choose another end date.

It is important to note that a similar legal remedy, a temporary restraining order, may also provide relief. Unlike an injunction, it is possible the court would issue a restraining order without notice to the defendant. This can occur when the merits of the case show the likelihood of immediate irreparable harm along with why attempts to provide notice failed or why the court should not require notice in this case. If granted, the court would generally also provide for an expedited hearing for a preliminary injunction.

#2: Mandatory injunction

Similar to a preliminary injunction, this court order is available for those who need court intervention to provide adequate relief. It is different in that instead of barring the defendant or subject party from specific actions it requires affirmative action. Although the elements are similar to those noted above, the court will put a stricter standard on the requesting party before it grants this form of relief.