Over the last several months, our blog has dedicated considerable time to breaking down the economic tort of tortious interference in a bid to help business owners better understand their options when they suspect -- or are accused of causing -- interference with existing relationships or contracts.
We'll conclude this dissection in today's post, examining the two remaining elements of a tortious interference claim: a defendant's actual and improper interference with the contract.
The defendant's actual interference
In order for a valid tortious interference claim to be brought, it's necessary for the defendant to have caused an actual interference with an existing business relationship or contract involving the plaintiff.
In other words, a tortious interference claim cannot be brought where the defendant has only unsuccessfully attempted to obstruct or sabotage a contract between the plaintiff and a third party.
The defendant's improper interference
The final element of a tortious interference claim is establishing that in the event actual interference with an existing business relationship or contract involving the plaintiff did indeed occur, the defendant's underlying motivations were improper.
As to the determination of whether improper interference occurred, the following factors must typically be examined:
- The defendant's actions
- The defendant's interests and motive
- The plaintiff's interests
- The third party's interests
- The relationships between the various parties
- The nexus between the defendant's actions and the interference
- The damages incurred
If this and the other elements we've outlined in previous posts can be established, a plaintiff is entitled to damages, including both monetary loss and punitive damages.
Here's hoping the foregoing discussion has proven helpful. If you have any concerns regarding this issue or commercial litigation in general, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional able to protect your rights and your best interests.