National Commercial Bank Jamaica Ltd v Olint Corp Ltd (Jamaica): PC 28 Apr 2009

Jamaica – The customer appealed against refusal of an order requiring its bank not to close the customer accounts after the customer had been accused of fraud. There was no evidence that the account was being used unlawfully.
Held: In the absence of express contrary agreement or statutory impediment, a contract by a bank to provide banking services to a customer is terminable upon reasonable notice. It was wrong to approach requests for mandatory injunctions with a box-ticking approach, and ‘Factors which the court might have taken into account in this case if there had been a triable issue were, first, that the injunction required the bank to continue against its will to provide confidential services for the plaintiffs; secondly, that the injunction would require the bank to continue to incur reputational risks and possible exposure to legal action; thirdly, that it was by no means clear that the plaintiffs would be able to satisfy a claim under the cross-undertaking in damages; fourthly, that the plaintiffs’ case was, even if not (as their Lordships think) hopeless, certainly very weak, and fifthly, that the plaintiffs could no doubt have obtained alternative banking services from any bank whom they could persuade that they were not running a fraudulent scheme.’
Lord Hoffmann said in relation to interlocutory injunctions: ‘The purpose of such an injunction is to improve the chances of the court being able to do justice after a determination of the merits at the trial. At the interlocutory stage, the court must therefore assess whether granting or withholding an injunction is more likely to produce a just result. As the House of Lords pointed out in American Cyanamid Co v Ethicon Ltd [1975] AC 396, that means that if damages will be an adequate remedy for the plaintiff, there are no grounds for interference with the defendant’s freedom of action by the grant of an injunction. Likewise, if there is a serious issue to be tried and the plaintiff could be prejudiced by the acts or omissions of the defendant pending trial and the cross-undertaking in damages would provide the defendant with an adequate remedy if it turns out that his freedom of action should not have been restrained, then an injunction should ordinarily be granted.
In practice, however, it is often hard to tell whether either damages or the cross-undertaking will be an adequate remedy and the court has to engage in trying to predict whether granting or withholding an injunction is more or less likely to cause irremediable prejudice (and to what extent) if it turns out that the injunction should not have been granted or withheld, as the case may be. The basic principle is that the court should take whichever course seems likely to cause the least irremediable prejudice to one party or the other. This is an assessment in which, as Lord Diplock said in the American Cyanamid case [1975] AC 396 , 408: ‘It would be unwise to attempt even to list all the various matters which may need to be taken into consideration in deciding where the balance lies, let alone to suggest the relative weight to be attached to them.’ ‘
Lord Hoffmann also discussed the making of ex parte applications: ‘there appears to have been no reason why the application for an injunction should have been made ex parte, or at any rate, without some notice to the bank. Although the matter is in the end one for the discretion of the judge, audi alterem partem is a salutary and important principle. Their Lordships therefore consider that a judge should not entertain an application of which no notice has been given unless either giving notice would enable the defendant to take steps to defeat the purpose of the injunction (as in the case of a Mareva or Anton Piller order) or there has been literally no time to give notice before the injunction is required to prevent the threatened wrongful act. These two alternative conditions are reflected in rule 17.4(4) of the Supreme Court of Jamaica Civil Procedure Rules 2002. Their Lordships would expect cases in the latter category to be rare, because even in cases in which there was no time to give the period of notice required by the rules, there will usually be no reason why the applicant should not have given shorter notice or even made a telephone call. Any notice is better than none.’
Lord Hoffmann, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Carswell, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood and Lord Mance
[2009] UKPC 16, Times 06-May-2009, [2009] 1 WLR 1405
England and Wales
CitedShepherd Homes Ltd v Sandham ChD 1970
In the context of an interlocutory application for an enforcing a mandatory injunction, Megarry J said: ‘on motion, as contrasted with the trial, the court is far more reluctant to grant a mandatory injunction than it would be to grant a comparable . .
CitedDouglas and others v Hello! Ltd and others; similar HL 2-May-2007
In Douglas, the claimants said that the defendants had interfered with their contract to provide exclusive photographs of their wedding to a competing magazine, by arranging for a third party to infiltrate and take and sell unauthorised photographs. . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Transport, ex parte Factortame (No 2) HL 11-Oct-1990
The validity of certain United Kingdom legislation was challenged on the basis that it contravened provisions of the EEC Treaty by depriving the applicants of their Community rights to fish in European waters, and an interlocutory injunction was . .
CitedAmerican Cyanamid Co v Ethicon Ltd HL 5-Feb-1975
Interim Injunctions in Patents Cases
The plaintiffs brought proceedings for infringement of their patent. The proceedings were defended. The plaintiffs obtained an interim injunction to prevent the defendants infringing their patent, but they now appealed its discharge by the Court of . .
CitedFilms Rover International Ltd v Cannon Film Sales Ltd 1987
The grant of an interlocutory injunction, whether prohibitory or mandatory, depends on what is sometimes called the balance of convenience but is more accurately an assessment of whether granting or withholding the injunction at that stage is more . .

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The revenue appealed against refusal of its petition for the winding up of the company for non-payment of a VAT assessment. The company said that the assessment was disputed. The revenue said that the company had been run for the purpose of . .
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CitedJeeg Global Ltd v Hare QBD 29-Mar-2012
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Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 16 August 2021; Ref: scu.341819