A Mareva injunction is a court order that freezes the assets of individuals or companies. It can be obtained without notice to the target individuals and/or companies and can then be extended on notice.
Mareva injunctions are usually employed in civil actions, typically situations involving fraud, where a plaintiff seeks to prevent a defendant from dissipating assets or removing them from the jurisdiction, pending final determination of the plaintiff’s action.
In Will challenge proceedings, particularly involving large complex estates, a Mareva injunction may be of use in cases where there is a high risk of dissipation or removal of contested assets by one or more parties to the proceedings, thus defeating the purpose of the Will challenge.
A party seeking a Mareva injunction without notice to other affected parties must make out a strong case of dissipation or removal of assets, through sworn evidence. There is also a duty of full and frank disclosure of all material facts and law, given that the affected parties are not able to defend against the injunction at first instance. Finally, the party seeking the injunction must give an undertaking as to damages. That is, the party must undertake to pay damages to the affected parties in the event that it is subsequently determined by a Court that the Mareva injunction should not have been granted. In Ontario, further to Rule 40.02, a Mareva Order obtained without notice is valid for ten days. It can then be extended by a Court, on notice to the affected parties. An affected party, once it receives notice, may immediately move to quash the injunction.
A Mareva Order may prove a valuable tool in preserving contested estate assets in Will challenge proceedings.
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Bianca La Neve