Freezing Injunctions

This is another type of special interim injunction. It is an order to a respondent not to dissipate, hide, remove from the United Kingdom or otherwise dispose of assets until judgment or further hearing. The purpose of the order is to prevent a defendant from defeating justice by removing anything against which judgment could be executed. Like a search order, a freezing injunction is at the very edge of the High Court's jurisdiction. It is made without notice to the other side and usually before the claim is served or even issued.


Until 23 April 1999, freezing injunctions were called Mareva orders following the Court of Appeal's judgment in The Mareva, Compania Mareva Naviera SA v International Bulk Carriers SA [1980] Lloyds L Reps 509. The name was changed when the Civil Procedure Rules came into force on 26 April 2005. The practice of freezing injunctions is now governed by CPR Parts 23 and 25 and PD - Interim Injunctions and by the Admiralty and Commercial Courts, Chancery and Mercantile Court Guides.


Like search orders the application is made by an application notice accompanied by a draft minute order (models of which appear in the Annex to PD- Interim Injunctions and Appendix 5 of the Admiralty and Commercial Court Guide) and supported by evidence verified by oath an affirmation. The purpose of requiring affidavit evidence is to bring home the seriousness of the application. This evidence and the draft order should be reviewed or better still drafted by the counsel who has to present the application to the judge.


The application is made to a judge of the High Court. As this application is made in the absence of the other side, great care has to be taken to put any and every material fact before the court whether helpful or not. Failure to do so can result in the discharge of the injunction. If the order is granted, copies must be served immediately on anyone having charge of the respondent's assets such as his bankers and trustees.

Discharge and Variation

In the Chancery Division, freezing injunctions are granted until a return day when the matter is considered by the judge in the presence of all parties. In the Queen's Bench Division it is more usual to grant the order until trial or further order subject to permission to the respondent to apply to the court for variation or discharge in the meantime. As with search orders applications to discharge are not usually entertained  until trial unless there is a clear justification for doing so like a material non-disclosure. Applications to vary the terms of the order to permit the running of a legitimate business or payment of legal fees is however common.