Freezing orders are one of the most potent weapons available to applicants in English courts. And they can be used not just to aid English proceedings – international litigants can also seek freezing orders from English courts to support proceedings abroad.

In addition to the debilitating effects of restricting what a party can do with its assets (potentially anywhere in the world), freezing orders also force a party to disclose often sensitive and highly-guarded information on all of the assets it holds – even when the sum of its assets far exceeds the amount frozen.

This article provides an overview of this remedy and focuses on some recent developments which highlight the trend towards ever more robust interim remedies being available to applicants in English courts.

Overview of freezing orders

A freezing order is an interim injunction which prevents a party from dealing with or disposing of its assets other than in circumstances which it provides for. Its principal purpose is to preserve assets until a judgment against them can be obtained and enforced. In most instances, a freezing order is sought pre-action but one can also be sought after judgment.

Where appropriate the freezing order can be ‘worldwide’, in which case it will apply to all assets held by a respondent anywhere in the world (not just assets in England and Wales). However, before taking steps to enforce the order in the courts of any other jurisdiction where assets are believed to be located, the permission of both the English court and courts of that jurisdiction are needed.

Oct-Dec 2018 issue

Dechert LLP