by Breda O'Malley , Cian Clinch August-19-2015 in Employment Law

In employment law, the use of injunctions has become increasingly prominent in light of various high profile cases demonstrating their use. While typically injunctions are sought in circumstances where there is a threatened or actual dismissal, their use is not solely confined to dismissal situations. In fact, a wide range of injunctions are sought in relation to other employment issues such as sick pay, pickets, advertising positions, ending suspensions etc.

However, injunctive relief is not often easy to secure and it’s important to bear in mind that any related application to the Courts will require the applicant to satisfy a number of criteria.

One recent decision in which the High Court assessed the relevant criteria is the decision in Earley v Health Service Executive [2015] JIC 3006. This case concerned an application for interlocutory relief to restrain the respondent from reassigning the applicant from her current position as that of Area Director of Nursing, Galway and Roscommon Mental Health Service. In the circumstances, the applicant had been asked to temporarily move to another position while enquiries could be carried out in respect of a number of incidents which had occurred on hospital premises. The Court, in granting the injunction, made the following observations:

  1. The court should adopt a flexible approach when it comes to cases concerning contracts of employment
  2. The balance of convenience lay in favour of the applicant – In this case, she was not asking the Court to supervise the employment relationship but rather requesting that she be permitted to do her job in accordance with her contract of employment
  3. Damages would not be an adequate remedy – The Court noted that due to the seniority of her position, her reassignment would carry with it a “dramatic loss of status within her profession
  4. The Court was satisfied that the applicant had demonstrated that she has a strong case to be heard and is likely to succeed at the hearing of her action.

It is clear that injunctive relief may constitute a very useful tool to be availed of by a party who wishes to assert their rights. However, given the costly nature of a related application to the Courts and the strict reliance placed on the above criteria, any potential applicant should carefully consider whether they are capable of satisfying the above criteria, prior to bringing any such application.

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