Irreparable-Injury Rule – the principle that equitable relief (i.e. injunction) is available only when no adequate legal remedy (money damages) exists

Irreparable-Injury Rule:

1. The principle that equitable relief (granted via an injunction) is available only when no adequate legal remedy (monetary damages) exists.  Although courts continue to cite this rule, they do not usually follow it literally in practice. — aka adequacy test.

      Excerpt from Douglas Laycock, The Death of the Irreparable Injury Rule (1991):

     “The irreparable injury rule has received considerable
scholarly attention. In 1978, Owen Fiss examined the possible reasons for the rule and found them wanting.  A vigorous debate over the economic wisdom of applying the rule to specific performance of contracts began about the same time,and& soon came to center on the transaction costs of administering the two remedies. Both Fiss & Dan Dobbs have noted that the rule does not seem to be taken very seriously, and in a review of Fiss’s book, I argued that the definition of adequacy pulls most of the rule’s teeth. The Restatement (Second) of Torts dropped the rule from the blackletter and condemned it as misleading, but replaced it only with a long and unstructured list of factors to be considered… [M}any sophisticated lawyers believe that the rule continues to
reflect a serious preference for legal over equitable remedies. [2]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Douglas Laycock, The Death of the Irreparable Injury
Rule 9 (1991)


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