As you will be aware, it was recently reported that airport workers employed by BAA had voted three to one in favour of strike action in a dispute over pay. Although an offer has now been made by BAA and the threat of a strike, for the time being, averted, this clear mandate means that if the strike action had gone ahead, BAA would have faced a total shut down of its six airports. There was speculation this action would take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend, causing chaos for thousands of holiday makers.

BAA would have had limited options in such a scenario and potentially their only option would have been to attempt to find an infringement by the union (such as not conducting the ballot properly e.g. by not making ballot papers available to everyone it intends to call out on strike or offering ballot papers to people who aren’t going to be striking). If so, they could have applied for an injunction to prevent the strike.

An interdict is the Scottish equivalent of the English injunction and is an order from a court that seeks to prevent unlawful injury to a claimant's rights. It can be sought either when a wrong is actually being committed or when a wrong is apprehended. It will only be granted upon evidence of a wrong or on grounds of reasonable apprehension that a violation is intended. If the other party fails to adhere to the terms of the interdict, he may be subjected to criminal-like penalties including imprisonment. Interdicts can be granted to prevent infringement both of private rights and of public rights, at the request of an individual or company who has title and interest to enforce the right in question.

There are two different types of interdicts: permanent, which apply without limit of time; or interim, designed merely to preserve the status quo or prevent temporary and imminent wrongs. Of course, the granting of an interdict is a matter of discretion for the court and will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. The basic requirements, however, are that the claimant has title to sue, a good, arguable case is established and the balance of convenience lies with the claimant (for which the court will consider the effect on the claimant of not getting the order, compared with the effect on the other party of the order being granted).