Reading time: 4 minutes

A Freezing Order (or “Mareva” Order) is a legal mechanism that courts impose to prevent a party from removing or hiding certain assets. As a general rule, State and Federal Courts in Australia have the power to make orders to ensure that their processes will not be rendered useless.

A clear example demonstrating how courts exercise this power is where a plaintiff/party can show there is a real risk that a defendant/respondent (i.e. the party being sued) may alienate or remove its assets from the jurisdiction, which would frustrate any judgment made against it. It’s unnecessary to prove that the defendant/respondent intends to circumvent the court process, simply that its actions are likely to have that effect.

When is a Freezing Order Used?

Where it appears as if the defendant is or is intending to remove its assets from the jurisdiction, a plaintiff may apply to the court for a freezing order before, during or even after a proceeding has concluded.

In order to obtain a freezing order before a court proceeding begins, an applicant needs to show that they will commence shortly after a case with a proper basis and reasonable prospects of success. It is also necessary to show that in the absence of a freezing order, the upcoming proceedings may be of no practical benefit.

It’s easier to convince a court to make a freezing order after the matter has finished as the court would have already heard and determined the plaintiff’s substantive rights and entitlements (such as the payment of money). A court would then be less concerned about interfering with the rights of the other (‘frozen’) party to use/dispose of its property by making a freezing order. The purpose of a freezing order is to then enable the applicant to enforce a court’s judgment.

What is the Effect of a Freezing Order?

The effect of a freezing order is to prevent a party from transferring or blocking its assets (up the value of the claim against it) – pending a determination in a court proceeding regarding a claim made against it, or allow a successful party to enforce a judgment against those assets. Freezing orders can also bind third parties (such as banks) which may be holding assets belonging to the frozen party.

A party can apply to vary or discharge a freezing order on the basis that it’s too broad or not broad enough, relative to the value of the claim (which may have been increased/reduced since the commencement of the proceeding), or that it is no longer necessary.

It’s important to note that a freezing order does not require a party to provide its assets as security for any judgment that may be entered against it. The order merely operates so as to prevent a person or corporation from further obstructing or transferring those assets, particularly across borders. The frozen assets do not automatically become the property of a successful plaintiff/applicant upon the entry of judgment, they’re simply ‘frozen’. It will then be necessary for the successful party to commence an enforcement action to attach a judgment debt to the money or assets in question.

How Can a Freezing Order be Obtained?

To obtain a freezing order, an applicant will usually be required to provide an undertaking to pay any damages suffered by the frozen party (or any affected third parties) if the ultimate claim fails and the court orders damages. At the same time, if a party subject to a freezing order knowingly acts in violation of that order, its actions may constitute a contempt of court which is punishable by prison or fine or both.


If you believe you may require a freezing order or are the subject of one and require advice or assistance, please contact our specialist disputes lawyers on 1300 544 755.


Employment Essentials for Tech Businesses

Thursday 5 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Protect your tech business and your employees by understanding your employment legal obligations. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

How to Protect and Enforce Your Trade Mark

Wednesday 11 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Protect your business’ brand from copycats and competitors. Register for this free webinar to learn how.
Register Now

Corporate Governance 101: Responsibilities for New Directors

Friday 13 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

If you are a new company director, join our free webinar to understand your legal compliance obligations. Register today.
Register Now

How Franchisors Can Avoid Misleading and Deceptive Conduct

Wednesday 18 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Ensure your franchise is not accused of misleading and deceptive conduct. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

New Kid on the Blockchain: Understanding the Proposed Laws for Crypto, NFT and Blockchain Projects

Wednesday 25 May | 10:00 - 10:45am

If you operate in the crypto space, ensure you understand the Federal Government’s proposed licensing and regulation changes. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

How to Expand Your Business Into a Franchise

Thursday 26 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Drive rapid growth in your business by turning it into a franchise. To learn how, join our free webinar. Register today.
Register Now

Day in Court: What Happens When Your Business Goes to Court

Thursday 2 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

If your business is going to court, then you need to understand the process. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Manage a Construction Dispute

Thursday 9 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

Protect your construction firm from disputes. To understand how, join our free webinar.
Register Now

Startup Financing: Venture Debt 101

Thursday 23 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how venture debt can help take your startup to the next level. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer