A Mareva injunction is a court order that can be used in Commonwealth nations to freeze the assets of a defendant in a civil case if there is a belief that the defendant may attempt to shuffle or hide them. This is done with the goal of controlling the assets until the case has been decided to prevent situations in which defendants move assets to avoid paying damages. Because they cause hardships for defendants, Mareva injunctions are only granted in cases in which such a court order is clearly necessary.
The 1975 case Mareva Compania Naviera SA v International Bulk Carriers SA is the basis for the Mareva injunction. Also known as a freezing injunction or freezing order, a Mareva injunction can be granted ex parte. This means that only one party needs to make the request and a judge can issue a court order without notifying the other party. In the case of a Mareva injunction, notifying the other party might provide enough warning for assets to be moved before the injunction goes through.
This type of court order can be granted before a trial takes place or during a trial if a plaintiff becomes alerted to circumstances that merit a freeze of the defendant's assets. In order to be granted a Mareva injunction, a plaintiff must show that there is a reasonable possibility that a defendant is likely to move assets out of reach. Evidence to support the claim is brought to court and reviewed by the judge. If the judge agrees, a Mareva injunction can be issued.
The injunction holds until the case is decided. If the case is ruled in favor of the defendant, the freeze is lifted. If the plaintiff wins the suit, a court order for damages will be issued. With an enforceable court order, the plaintiff can recover the damages and remaining assets will be released to the defendant.
In 1976, a similar legal case addressed seizure of evidence without warning in Commonwealth nations. As with a Mareva injunction, an Anton Piller order can be granted in cases where it is believed that a warning would provide enough time for the destruction of evidence. Since preservation of evidence is critical to investigating and prosecuting cases, law enforcement officers prefer to avoid situations in which evidence is damaged or destroyed before it can be collected. With an Anton Piller order, law enforcement can search and seize without warning to catch people by surprise.