Quia timet injunctions

The following Dispute Resolution practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Quia timet injunctions
  • What is quia timet relief?
  • When will the court grant quia timet relief?
  • Mandatory quia timet injunctions
  • Interim quia timet injunctions
  • Damages as an alternative to a quia timet injunction
  • Quia timet injunctions and persons unknown

Quia timet injunctions

What is quia timet relief?

Injunctions are generally awarded where a party has already suffered a wrong. For guidance on injunctions generally, see Practice Note: Injunctions—guiding principles. However, an injunction may be sought before a party's rights have been infringed on the basis that they fear that a wrong will be committed if an order is not made—the latin phrase ‘quia timet’ translates literally as ‘because he fears’. A quia timet injunction, also referred to as a precautionary injunction, may therefore be granted where either the defendant has threatened a wrongful act or there is a real risk that, unless an injunction is granted, an actionable wrong will be committed.

In Redland Bricks Ltd v Morris, the court held (at page 578):

‘[T]o prevent the jurisdiction of the courts being stultified equity has invented the quia timet action, that is an action for an injunction to prevent an apprehended legal wrong, though none has occurred at present, and the suppliant for such an injunction is without any remedy at law.’

When will the court grant quia timet relief?

The claimant must show ‘a real and substantial risk of damage of an imminent kind’ (Islington London Borough Council v Elliott at para [28]). This is particularly so when the injunction sought is a final injunction.

The courts’ have applied a two-stage test when considering whether or not to grant

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