Pre-trial Relief

AuthorJanet Walker/Lorne Sossin
ProfessionOsgoode Hall Law School, York University/Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
PrE-trial r EliEf
Litigation is time-consuming. The length of time between the f‌iling of a
claim and the trial of the dispute may take months or years. Sometimes,
however, what is being sought in t he litigation is time sensitive the
preservation of a heritage home or the right to run a summer amuse-
ment park. Occasionally, there are genuine concerns that a defendant
will shed a ssets so as to become “judgment proof.” The common law
and rules of civil procedure have addressed these concerns by provid-
ing a range of legal routes for the pres ervation of rights pending litiga-
tion. This chapter wi ll explore some of the more notable mechanisms
for pre-trial relief.
The ch apter i s divided into four sections. The f‌irst describes the
legal te st for obtaining an injunction, a t ype of pre-tr ial remedy. The
second focuse s on a specif‌ic ty pe of injunction — the Mareva Injunc-
tion which allows a party to freeze the assets of another party pend-
ing litigation. The third section focu ses on another specif‌ic kind of
interim relief — the Anton Piller Order, which is designed to prevent
the destruction of evidence before trial. Finally, the fourth section
examines preservation of property pending litigation and interpleader
Pre-tria l Relief 229
One pos sible route for part ies wishing to obtain a judicial remedy in
an e xpedited fashion prior to t rial is the interim or interlocutory in-
junction.1 Injunctions are avai lable in order to preserve a par ty’s rights
in anticipation of future litigation.2 Injunctions arose out the court’s
equitable jurisdict ion3 and are tied to the principle of fairness. Injunc-
tions may be “interlocutory” or “f‌inal.” An injunction is “interlocutory”
when it is granted before the tria l of the plaintiff’s action or intended
action or the hearing of the applicant’s application.4 An injunction is
referred to as “f‌inal” or “permanent” when it is granted after the trial.
A permanent injunction might, for in stance, be granted to stop forever
a particular u se of property or a particul ar kind of conduct.
Injunctions are interlocutory when they do not end the litigation
but rather seek to preserve or “freeze” the status of the parties pending
a f‌inal resolution. An interlocutory injunction that specif‌ies a particular
time period may also be termed an “interim injunction” or an “interim
interlocutory injunction.”5
An interlocutory injunction involves a balancing exercise by the
court. Consider t he ex ample of a claim that a work of art i s defa ma-
tory to a successful businesswoman. The woman brings a claim, but,
long before the claim will reach court, the artist plans to exhibit his
work. The pla intiff should not be deprived of an opportunity to have
the claim disposed of by the court. If an injunction is not granted, and
the work of art is shown, it will too late, since the remedy of preventing
a public display of the art will no longer be pos sible. The court must
also take into consideration that the art ist may be deprived of a chance
to express herself, and gain a livelihood, if prevented from publicly dis-
playing the ar t. The purpose of interlocutory injunctions is to ensure
1 See, generally, Robert J. Sh arpe, Injunctions and Specif‌ic Per formance, looseleaf
(Aurora, ON: Canada La w Book, 1998–); and Eugene Meehan, Injunctions (Sc ar-
borough, ON: Carswell, 1996).
2 There are a number of specialized i njunctions available in Canadian courts. M ar-
eva Injunctions a nd Anton Piller Orders are di scussed below. In some provinc es
(notably British Columb ia, Saskatchewan, and Alb erta), pre-judgment garnish-
ment orders perm it creditors to obtain an order wher eby alleged debtors are
required to pay a s um of money into court. This money is the n returned to the
debtor or paid to the cred itor depending on the outcome of the tr ial. See, for
example, Westmills Canad a Inc. v. Harvey & Pulton Warehouse Carpet Sales Ltd .,
[1989] 3 W.W.R . 616 (Alta. C.A.).
3 See P.M. Perell, The Fusion of Law and Equit y (Markham: Butterwort hs, 1990).
4 Century Enginee ring Co. Ltd. v. Greto, [1961] O.R. 85 (H.C.J.).
5 Ibid.

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