Repairing (the Doctrine of) Irreparable Harm
23 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2008
Date Written: February 8, 2008
In deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction courts compare the expected irreparable harm if the injunction is not issued to the irreparable harm that would result if the injunction is issued. An injury is considered irreparable only as far as it "cannot be cured by a remedy after trial." We argue that efficiency entails that this definition is incorrect.
Harm to one party which does not correlate to a corresponding benefit to the other party is a deadweight-loss. The court must take such harm into account in deciding whether to issue a preliminary injunction, irrespective of the availability of an ex-post remedy. Consequently, the implementation of the current doctrine, which allows courts to disregard certain social harms (losses that can be compensated for), leads courts to grant, in some cases, inefficient preliminary injunctions, and to reject, in other cases, applications for efficient ones.
Keywords: Preliminary injunction, irreparable harm, remedies, social harm
JEL Classification: K40, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation