Lawsuits For Meddling With Someone Else’s Contracts Or Business Relationships
Let’s say that you have a business—for our example, assume that you install and fix sound systems. You get lucky, and you sign a major deal with a used car company; your company will be the company that will install, repair, and refurbish all of the sound systems in the cars that the used car company has on their lots. The contract you signed makes you the exclusive vendor to the used car company, for this service.
You are doing the work, until a competitor comes along, and tells the used car company that they are better, that you are too small to do the work, and that they can do it for cheaper. Because of this solicitation, the used car company cuts ties with you, and instead, uses your competitor.
Is this just free-market at work? Or is there something else going on here—perhaps, something illegal? In fact, this hypothetical scenario is a classic example of what is known as tortious interference with a business relationship, or tortious interference with contract.
If you know that parties are involved in a contract, encouraging or inducing one of the parties to break that contract, can lead to a lawsuit against you for tortious interference. To be liable, the party suing you (that is, the party that believes that you interfered with their contract or business relationship) must show:
- That there was a contract or professional relationship between the two parties
- That you knew that there was an existing contract or professional or business relationship
- That you purposefully or intentionally interfered with eth contract, or interfered with the performance of the contract
- That you were harmed, or suffered monetary damage, as a result of the interference
As you can see, interference with a contract is an intentional wrong—it must be proven that somebody did something knowingly and purposefully, with the intention of breaking your contractual agreement or causing a party to default on a contract.
No Written Contracts are Necessary
Note that there doesn’t always have to be a written contract. Ongoing professional relationships, even in the absence of a written agreement, cannot be purposefully interfered with. General advertising to the general public won’t be considered tortious interference; generally, the interference has to be targeted to a specific party, company, contract or business relationship.
Ongoing Business Expectations Are Necessary
To sue, you also have to show that you had some expectation of ongoing business in the future—that is, that there were future financial or contractual benefits that were lost because of the other side’s interference. Someone cannot, for example, be liable for interfering with a relationship between you and a company, when you did one job for the company, and there was no contract, discussion, or expectation of ongoing work between you and your clients or an outside company.
Did someone do something illegal that harmed your business? Call the West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for help.