Law & Economics Working Papers
The conventional approach to preliminary relief focuses on irreparable harm but neglects entirely irreparable benefits. That is hard to understand. Errant irreversible harms are important because they distort incentives and have lasting distributional consequences. But the same is true of errant irreversible gains. When a preliminary injunction wrongly issues, then, there are actually two distinct errors to count: the irreparable harm wrongly imposed on the nonmoving party, and the irreparable benefit wrongly enjoyed by the moving party. Similarly, when a preliminary injunction is wrongly denied, there are again two errors, not one: the irreparable harm wrongly imposed on the moving party, and the irreparable benefit errantly accorded the nonmoving party. The conventional approach to preliminary relief mistakenly accounts for only half the problem.
Douglas Gary Lichtman, "Irreparable Benefits" (John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics Working Paper No. 305, 2006).