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INTERIM RELIEF Interim relief may also play an essential role in M&A disputes by pre- venting behaviours that could have irremediable consequences, such as the breach of a confidentiality or exclusivity clause or, most impor- tantly, the completion of the proposed transaction with another party. SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE Specific performance is an important and difficult topic in the M&A environment, the main question being whether the actual implemen- tation of the deal can be ordered by a judge or arbitral tribunal. The answer is likely to depend on the circumstances and the stage at which the issue arises. With regard to the pre-signing phase, it is difficult to imagine cases where a court could issue an order to sign an agreement, especially if the terms and conditions of the (often complex) sale and purchase agreement have not been at least substantially agreed upon. At the post-signing but pre-closing stage, specific performance can be envisaged, but not without carefully taking into account the nature of the transaction. Ordering the assignment of 100 per cent of the shares of a holding company could, for example, not be too problematic. On the other hand, ordering parties to set up and manage a joint venture can be expected to be more problematic. PRE-SIGNING ISSUES Sometimes disputes concern the behaviour of one of the parties before the purchase agreement has been signed, e.g.: (a) disputes some- times arise with respect to breaches of pre-signing confidentiality or exclusivity provisions, giving rise to the delicate questions of proof of the breach and of the resulting damages; and (b) disputes based on 97