When businesses enter into a contract, there is an understanding between them that both parties will act in good faith and do their best to hold up their end of the deal. However, when a third party interferes with the contract with the purpose of forcing someone to break a contract or ending a professional relationship, the aggrieved party may file a lawsuit against that party for tortious interference.
Tortious interference, or the interference with contractual relations, occurs in many different ways. In order to prove a case against a party guilty of tortious interference, you will have to show that the defendant intentionally and improperly interfered with a contract by using blackmail, force or other inappropriate methods to get one or both parties to violate a valid contract. In order to be guilty of tortious interference, the defendant must have been aware of the existing contract or relationship between the parties and actually have interfered with the contract. Unsuccessful attempts to force parties to break their contracts do not constitute tortious interference. They must have also either intended to interfere with the contract or been aware that their behavior would likely interfere with the contract.
The most challenging part of a tortious interference case is to prove that the alleged interference was improper. Courts will consider the type of conduct, motive, parties' interests, damages incurred and other factors when determining whether the defendant's behavior is improper.
When defendants are found liable for tortious interference, they will have to pay injured parties for the money lost, punitive damages and other costs. Despite the possible remedies, tortious interference can negatively impact company business dealings for years afterward.
Source: FindLaw, "Tortious Interference," accessed on June 26, 2017