News International sought to defeat all opposition with writs and injunctions, and had obtained eight court orders against the unions within three weeks of the strike beginning.
The first was against SOGAT forbidding the union to tell its members in wholesale distribution not to handle the four Murdoch national newspapers, deemed by the court to be secondary action. The union refused to comply and as a consequence in February 1986 the High Court ordered seizure of all SOGAT's assets (sequestration) and imposed a £25,000 fine. The NGA was fined £25,000 for flouting a court order to lift the ban on work on Times Supplements which were produced outside Wapping. Murdoch also secured bans in the Scottish courts.
The Transport and General Workers Union (now Unite) and the Union of Communication Workers (now CWU) were banned by the courts from taking any action in support of the dispute including observing picket lines. The Post Office failed initially on a technicality to obtain an injunction against the UCW whose members were banning The Sun bingo cards, but succeeded soon after.
SOGAT continued to defy the court. In March, the sequestrators impounded the union's fleet of cars and its offices were threatened with closure. Subsequently the Court of Appeal ruled that SOGAT branch monies should not have been included when national union assets were seized by the sequestrators, following a separate court action by a SOGAT London Branch.
To obtain release of their funds and assets SOGAT purged its contempt of court in May. The company responded in June with writs seeking a ban on picketing and demonstrations at NI plants and at distribution centres.
The company claimed that the unions had organised or condoned intimidation or violence. But it had to admit it had no evidence for the claims and was forced to reveal documents showing its "elaborate deception" of the print unions in preparing secret plans to bypass the existing workforce and de-unionise. However, new restrictions on the right to picket and demonstrate were imposed by the court: SOGAT and NGA could organise peaceful demos outside the plant but pickets would be restricted to six at the gate and would have no right to ask people not to go into work since Wapping had not been the pickets' place of work.
In August the print unions gave assurances to the court that they would not disrupt the TNT road distribution network.
Later, British Rail served a writ on News International claiming £30 milion damages for breach of contract by moving newspaper distribution to road haulage company TNT.
In October the company obtained a High Court ruling that the ban on News International newspapers in public libraries by three local councils (and by inference another 20) was unlawful.
Two writs were served by News International against SOGAT and NGA in January 1987 seeking significant damages and for contempt of court proceedings alleging the unions had breached High Court injunctions banning unlawful mass picketing. These threats led directly to the end of the dispute.