What is an Interim Interdict and how can I protect myself and company?

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A quick guide to interim interdicts - the Scottish equivalent of an injunction.

What are interim interdicts?

An interdict is a court order which prevents a wrong or anticipated wrong being performed. It is the Scottish equivalent of an injunction in England and Wales. An interim interdict acts as a temporary version and is used when a particular action needs to be stopped immediately. It can be applied for at any time before final proceedings but cannot be used to compel someone to perform a specific act.

When deciding whether to award an interim interdict, the court applies a two – part test. The first part requires that there is a legal foundation to the case and a probable chance of success (prima facie). If established, the court will then decide if, based on the balance of convenience the interim interdict should be granted. The inconvenience to the pursuer in not having the interim interdict granted must outweigh the inconvenience to the defender were the order granted for the application to be successful.

Any interim interdict must be clear and precise and go no further than is necessary to prevent the wrong or future wrong. This is to ensure all parties are clear of what the wrong in question is and what action needs to stop. Interim interdicts are often made ‘ex parte’, meaning the party issuing the interim interdict is under no obligation to inform the opposing party of the application.

When might an interim interdict be useful to you?

As interim interdicts can be enforced immediately, they are most useful in matters of urgency. An example of when an interim interdict may be useful is in a dispute between neighbors. If harassment continues through repeated performance of certain behaviors, an interim interdict can be lodged to put an immediate stop to these at the point they become unbearable.

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What happens if an interim interdict is breached?

The standard of proof increases when an interim interdict is breached; the breach must be established beyond reasonable doubt. To satisfy a breach, willful disobedience in the failure to comply with the order must be shown. Penalties for a breach of interdict can extend to imprisonment, a fine, or both.

How can I be protected against an interim interdict?

The only exception to the ‘ex parte’ rule, which allows an application to be made without warning to the other side, is through the lodging of a caveat. A caveat is lodged with the relevant court and ensures the solicitor for the defender is made aware of any application for the interim interdict prior to the hearing. This then allows the defence to be present at the hearing to defend the request.

If you believe an interim interdict or the lodging of a caveat may be useful to you, then please get in touch with our experienced team who will be able to assist.

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