Examples of Interim Relief: What It Means in Everyday Life

Updated September 1, 2022
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Interim relief is when the court grants some short-term help until a decision is made. This relief is given because quite some time can pass between when a law suit is filed and when the case is actually heard and decided. The help can be in the form of an asset like money to pay a bill or it can be an order that someone cannot proceed with something until the case is heard.

Examples of Interim Relief in Real Life

  • The Little Sisters of the Poor run a charity for elderly people. They filed a lawsuit against Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the United States, because they want to be exempt from the HHS mandate (also known as the Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare") that would require them to provide insurance coverage of contraception for their employees. A court decision will take months, and on January 24, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States granted the Little Sisters of the Poor interim relief, allowing them to remain temporarily exempt from the Affordable Care Act requirements until a decision in the case is made.
  • Gregory Holt is serving a life sentence with the Arkansas Department of Corrections. The grooming policy of the Arkansas Department of Corrections does not allow inmates to grow beards, but Holt stated that he must grow a beard due to his Muslim beliefs. On November 14, 2013, the United States Supreme Court granted interim relief to Holt regarding the grooming rule, allowing him to grow a half inch beard.
  • In India, after many talks between government employees' unions and the actual government, the state government declared that it will give a twenty-seven percent interim relief to government employees. This was to take effect January 1, 2014.
  • AbbVie and InterMune are European companies that conduct medical clinical trials. The European Medicines Agency was going to release data from particular studies to third parties, so AbbVie and InterMune requested interim relief to prevent the European Medicines Agency from disclosing the information until a later time. Interim relief was granted on November 28, 2013, by the President of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Potential Situations of Interim Relief

  • Amy files for divorce from Jack and wants full custody of their children. She moves out and takes their children with her. Jack requests interim relief in the hopes that the kids will be returned to their home with him until the court makes a custody decision.
  • A developer wants to put a housing complex on a piece of land. A community group is fighting to preserve that land as undeveloped. The community group requests that the court grant interim relief to prohibit the developer from beginning construction until after the court hears the case and decides whether the land can be developed or not.
  • A person is seeking to publish a book that shares sensitive information about his former employer. The employer files a law suit against the former employee. The court grants interim relief to the employer, meaning that the writer is prohibited from publishing the book until a trial has determined whether or not he is legally able to publish such material.

    Interim relief is help or a short-term delay in some action which is granted by the court to help one of the participants in a law suit. These examples were included to help you understand more about how interim relief works and when the court might grant the relief.