What Is It? When Can You Seek Damages for It?
In business, there are few things more important than the relationships you have with vendors and customers. Often, those relationships are memorialized in a written agreement, but sometimes they are not. What happens when a competitor goes to a critical vendor or customer and offers them an incentive to breach a contract or to terminate a business relationship with you? You don’t have a contract with the competitor, so you can’t file a breach of contract claim against them. How can you hold a competitor accountable for wrongfully interfering with your business relationships?
The Concept of Tortious Interference
It’s important to understand, first and foremost, that allegations of tortious interference are not criminal allegations. With a tortious interference claim, you’re not seeking to have a competitor subjected to fines—you want to recover compensation for the losses incurred by your business. Tortious interference is instead a sort of hybrid between a contract claim and a tort (personal injury) claim.
What Are the Elements of a Tortious Interference Claim?
There are generally two types of tortious interference claims:
- Tortious interference with an existing contractual relationship—this requires that you show:
- The existence of a valid and enforceable contract
- Knowledge of the existence of the agreement by a third party
- An intentional act by that third party that wrongfully interfered with the contractual relationship
- Harm to the contractual relationship as a result of the interference
- Tortious interference with a business relationship—in the absence of a contract, you must show:
- The existence of a business relationship (not yet formalized by a contract)
- Knowledge and interference by a third party
- Harm to the business relationship as a consequence of the interference
Contact Attorney Howard N. Sobel
At the office of Howard N. Sobel, we provide comprehensive legal counsel to businesses and business owners. Contact our office online or call us at 856-424-6400 to set up a free initial consultation. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request. We accept all major credit cards.