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What is tortious interference?

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There’s a difference between healthy business competition and illegal competition. When a business goes too far and illegally interferes with a competitor’s business, it can find itself the defendant in a lawsuit alleging tortious interference.

The term “tortious interference” comes from common law, meaning it has developed in the courts over many years. It comes up with some frequency as a claim in litigation between businesses.

To prove that a defendant committed tortious interference, the plaintiff must show that the defendant improperly interfered with the business relationships or contracts of another party with the intent to cause economic harm.

For example, imagine a case where Apex Corp. purchases machine parts under an exclusive contract with Beatrix Widget Co. The competing Codex Widget Co. induces Apex to breach its contract and start buying its parts from Codex.

Did Codex do anything illegal, or did it just offer better parts and service at a lower price? In this example, Beatrix believes Codex improperly interfered with its contract by spreading false rumors. Beatrix files suit against Codex, claiming tortious interference.

Perhaps the trickiest part of Beatrix’s case is proving that Codex had the requisite intent. It must show that Codex spread these untrue rumors with the intent of hurting Beatrix’s business.

These cases are technically and legally difficult, and they require the help of experienced business law professionals. A skilled business lawyer can help business owners, managers and others review their options, resolve disputes and plan ways to stay out of trouble in the future.

Category: Automobile Dealer Law – Franchise Disputes

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