Nigerian Cases on Interlocutory Injunction
Below are rationes decidendi on Interlocutory Injunction from Nigerian Cases. An interlocutory injunction is a court order preventing a party in a suit from doing certain acts pending the determination of the suit.
Meaning of Interlocutory Injunction
Sabru (Nig.) Ltd. v. Jezco (Nig.) Ltd. (2001) 2 NWLR (Pt. 697) 364
interlocutory injunction means an injunction granted after due contest inter partes. It is an injunction not only ordered after a full contest between the parties but also ordered to last until the determination of the main suit. Applications for interlocutory injunction are properly made on notice to theother side to keep matters in status quo until the determination of the suit.
Purpose of Interlocutory Injunction
FIRST BANK OF NIG. PLC & ANOR VS NDARAKE & SONS (NIG) LTD (2008) Legalpedia (CA) 57117
“The main purpose of an interlocutory injunction is to preserve the res or subject matter of the litigation from destruction pending the determination of the matter, so, where an action sought to be restrained has already been completed, the equitable remedy of interlocutory injunction will no longer be available to an applicant.” – PER THERESA NGOLIKA ORJI-ABADUA JCA
FRANCIS EDET EKPENYONG & ANOR HON. OROK OTU DUKE & 5 ORS. CA (2008) Legalpedia (CA) 10881
“The purpose of an interlocutory injunction is to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the substantive suit. Status quo is the state of affairs existing during the period immediately preceding the issuance of the writ.” – PER JEAN OMOKRI JCA
Application for an Interlocutory Injunction
Ezebilo v. Chinwuba (1997) 7 NWLR (Pt. 511) 108
An applicant for interlocutory injunction must show that his legal right is threatened or abused. This may arise by a threat to or brutalisation of the res which may result in damage, destruction, or abuse of it.
A threatened trespass, for instance, in the case of land is enough to sustain an application for interlocutory injunction. Once the applicant shows an actionable wrong against the res, an order of interlocutory injunction will follow.
Where, however, an applicant is unable to show an actionable wrong or an infringement of a legally enforceable right, the fact that the act of the respondent is injurious to him is not sufficient for the grant of an interlocutory injunction.
ACHEBE v. MBANEFO & ANOR (2017) LPELR-41884(CA)
“The learned trial Judge has to consider whether the action of the party that applied for an interlocutory injunction is frivolous, or there are triable issues in granting or refusing an application for an interlocutory injunction. In Adenuga vs. Odumeru (2003) FWLR (Pt.158) 1288 at page 1304 paragraph “H” to page 1305 paragraphs “A”-“G” to wit: “In an application for an interlocutory injunction, the plaintiff must show an existence of his right which needs to be protected in the interim. He must at the same time satisfy the Court that there is a real question to be tried in the substantive suit: Egbe vs. Onogun (1972) 1 All NLR 95 at 98. This does not require the Court to determine the merit of the plaintiff’s entitlement to the claim.
“But it places on the plaintiff an initial burden. It is the burden of showing that there is a serious question to be tried upon the affidavit evidence (as well with averments in the statement of claim, if any has been filed): See Obeya Memorial Hospital vs. Attorney-General of the Federation (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt.60) 325. It is necessary to emphasize that it is of vital importance for a plaintiff seeking an interlocutory injunction to adduce sufficiently precise factual affidavit evidence to satisfy the Court that his claim for a permanent injunction at the trial is not frivolous; or at any rate, based on the substantive claim, to produce affidavit evidence to satisfy the Court in justification of his application for an interlocutory injunction to maintain the status quo.
“It is only when this has been done that it will become necessary for the Court to proceed further with the application to consider the balance of convenience. Otherwise the application ought to be refused at the point the Court is not so satisfied. This is clear from the observation made by Lord Diplock in American Cyanamid Co. vs. Ethicon Ltd. (1975) 1 All E.R. 504 at 510 as to what should be the approach in considering an application for an interlocutory injunction. He said inter alia: “It is no part of the Court’s function at this stage of the litigation to try to resolve conflicts of evidence of affidavit as to facts on which the claims of either party may ultimately depend not to decide difficult questions of law which call for detailed argument and mature considerations.
“These are matters to be dealt with at the trial… so unless the material available to the Court at the hearing of the application for an interlocutory injunction fails to disclose that the plaintiff has any real prospect of succeeding in his claim for a permanent injunction at the trial, the Court should go on to consider whether the balance of convenience lies in favour of granting or refusing the interlocutory relief that is sought.”
“It seems to me that even if there had been no cause for me to comment adversely on the complaints laid in the grounds of appeal and the issues set down for determination, this appeal stood no chance of succeeding. The likelihood that a plaintiff would have succeeded in establishing his right to an injunction if the action had gone to trial is a factor to be brought into the balance by the Judge in weighing the risks that injustice may result from his deciding the application for an interlocutory injunction one way rather than the other: See NWL Ltd. vs. Woods (1979) 3 All ER 614 at 626.”
“Economic benefits a party has been deriving from the property before the alleged interference or invasion may be considered in granting or refusing an application for interlocutory injunction pending the determination of the rights of the parties. See Adesina vs. Arowolo (2005) FWLR (Pt.245) 1123 at pages 1140 to 1141.” – Per JOSEPH TINE TUR, JCA
CHIEF DANIEL OGBONNAYA & ORS VS ADAPALM NIGERIA LIMITED (1993) Legalpedia (SC) 71537
“In an application for an interlocutory injunction, an applicant should interalia satisfy the court that there is a serious question to be tried at the hearing of the suit and that the facts disclose a reasonable probability that the applicant will be entitled to the relief sought.” PER KUTIGI, J.S.C
Differences among interlocutory, Interim, and ex-parte injunctions
Sabru (Nig.) Ltd. v. Jezco (Nig.) Ltd. (2001) 2 NWLR (Pt. 697) 365
Applications for interlocutory injunction are properly made on notice to the other side to keep matters in status quo until the determination of the suit. Interim injunction, on the other hand, while always showing the tramels of order of injunction made ex-parte are not necessarily coterminous with them. Their main feature which distinguishes them from interlocutory injunction is that they are made to preserve the status quo until a named date or until further order or until an application on notice can be heard.
They are also for cases of real urgency. But unlike ex-parte orders of injunction, they can be made during the hearing of a motion on notice for interlocutory injunction, when, because of the length of the hearing, it is shown that an irretrievable mischief or damage may be occasioned before completion of hearing.
Also, it can be made to avoid such an irretrievable mischief or damage when due to the pressure of the business of the court or through no fault of the applicant it was impossible to hear and determine the application on notice for interlocutory function.
However, what the court does in such a case is not to hear the application for interlocutory injunction ex-parte, behind the back of the respondent, but to make an order which has the effect of preserving the status quo until the application for interlocutory injunction can be heard and determined.
POLARIS BANK LTD v. BELLVIEW AIRLINES LTD & ANOR (2021) LPELR-56258(CA)
“In the seminal case of Kotoye v CBN (supra) at page 78 – 79, Karibi-Whyte, JSC explained: “It is useful to examine the meaning and scope of the words “interlocutory” and “interim” which have been used very freely and often times regarded as interchangeable in applications for injunctions. See Kufeji v. Kogbe (1961) 1 All N.L.R. 113; Iroegbu v. Ugbo (1970-71) 1 E.C.S.L.R. 162.
“An interlocutory application is an application which can be made in the course of a proceeding, and at any stage of a cause or matter, for the purpose of keeping the parties in status quo till the determination of the action – See Obeya Memorial Specialist Hospital v. Attorney-General for the Federation (1987) 3 N.W.L.R. (Pt.60) 325. Ojukwu v. Governor of Lagos State (1986) 3 N. W. L. R. (Pt.26) 39. The word “interim” used also in applications and orders of injunction for maintaining the status quo of parties to a suit means “temporary”, “in the mean time.”
“However, an injunction described as interim falls within the above definition and is an interlocutory injunction because it is an application made in the course of the proceedings. But unlike an interlocutory injunction properly so called, an interim injunction is not. It is an injunction made until a named date or until further order or until an application on notice can be heard. Thus, they bear all the features and trappings of an interlocutory injunction and granted upon the same consideration of equity.” – Per ONYEKACHI AJA OTISI, JCA