Economic Sabotage: An Introduction to Tortious Interference
When companies take competition too far, they can cross legal lines and cause serious trouble for other businesses. That’s when the concept of “tortious interference” often comes in. One party may be guilty of tortious conduct when they interfere with another party’s contracts, business relationships, or other economic prospects, with the intent of causing financial harm.
Basics of Tortious Interference
Tortious interference commonly starts with a contract, but it can also involve a relationship or deal that has economic significance for a person or business. The defendant is the person who tries to interfere with the contract with an improper inducement, blackmail, physical force, or other unethical or inappropriate methods. Their interference may cause victims to violate the terms of their contract, and it may cause other parties to lose the benefits of that contract.
The interfering person can face legal action from both types of victims, who stand to recover damages for the economic losses they suffered in the process.
Elements of Tortious Interference
To establish tortious interference, you need to prove intent. That means the defendant must have acted intentionally and deliberately in order to put the other party at an economic disadvantage. A lawsuit for tortious interference will seek to establish several elements:
- The plaintiff and a third party shared a valid contract (or other economic expectancies) together. The defendant can only have liability for valid, legally sound contracts or for interference with an advantageous business relationship that has been interfered with. Keep in mind that a person can still be held liable for interfering with a contract that is terminable at will.
- The defendant was aware of the contract’s existence or an advantageous business relationship. This element can be proven with evidence, like a written statement, or inferred from the circumstances.
- The defendant had the intent to interfere with the contract or the business relationship. Intent can be an explicit desire to act, or it can mean acting in spite of knowing that it would most likely cause interference.
- The interference actually took place. If the attempt was unsuccessful, the plaintiff generally doesn’t have a case.
- The interference was improper or unlawful in some way. A person’s improper motivations can make the interference tortious, even if the act wouldn’t otherwise be a tort.
- The plaintiff suffered economic harm as a result.
Establishing Tortious Interference
Tortious interference can occur in many ways, and a wide range of factors may be used to determine whether or not a defendant’s interference was improper. The courts may consider the defendant’s motive and interests, their conduct, the other parties’ interests, the relationships between each party, and the resulting damages, to name a few.
If you believe you’ve been a victim of tortious interference, you may be entitled to damages for your economic losses. Don’t attempt to handle a lawsuit without a capable attorney by your side. Contact the Campbell Law Group, P.A. to help your business recover from the consequences of economic sabotage. We will provide you with skilled and persistent legal counsel every step of the way.
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