Thanks to our nation’s antitrust laws, businesses in the United States enjoy a healthy level of competition in their respective industries. This competition gives consumers a choice in the products they purchase or services they use. And for businesses, this competition pushes companies to create new products and services that will distinguish them from their competitors.
Unfortunately, competition between companies sometimes spurs one company to interfere with another company’s business. In business law, this is called tortious interference and it can lead to serious litigation if a company isn’t careful.
Tortious interference can be done in two ways: contract interference and/or business relations interference. Both can be grounds for civil action.
Contract Interference: A company can be accused of interference with a contract in the event that it intentionally interferes with the performance of a contract held between a third-party and plaintiff. Plaintiff need not allege an actual or inevitable breach of contract in order to state a claim for disruption of contractual relations.
Business Relations Interference: The tort of intentional or negligent interference with business relations imposes liability for improper methods of disrupting or diverting the business relationship of another which fall outside the boundaries of fair competition. A plaintiff must show that the defendant engaged in an independently wrongful act. It is not necessary to prove that the defendant acted with the specific intent, or purpose, of disrupting the plaintiff’s prospective economic advantage.
Not all intentional acts, however, constitute as tortious interference either, which is why talking to a skilled lawyer prior to filing a complaint is considered a good idea.
Sources: findlaw.com, “Tortious Interference,” Accessed Oct. 8, 2014
The Cornell University Law School, “Intentional interference with contractual relations,” Accessed Oct. 8, 2014