Tortious interference

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Tortious Interference with Contract Rights
– Occurs when one party persuades another to breach its contract with a third party
– Can involve the use of blackmail, threats, influence, etc.
– Deliberately interferes with a contractor’s ability to perform contractual obligations
– Prevents the client from receiving promised services or goods
– Termed as tortious inducement of breach of contract

Tortious Interference with a Business Relationship
– Involves intentional actions to prevent successful establishment or maintenance of business relationships
– Occurs when one party takes actions that cause a second party not to enter into a business relationship with a third party
– Example: Offering to sell a property below market value to disrupt an ongoing sale with another party
– Termed as tortious interference with a business expectancy
– Can result in economic harm and loss of potential business opportunities

Negligent Tortious Interference
– Historically, negligent interference did not lead to actionable claims
– Some jurisdictions recognize claims for negligent interference, while others do not
– Requires actual knowledge and intent to interfere with existing contracts or expectancies
– Negligent actions that damage contractual or business relationships can cause economic harm
– Examples include blocking a waterway or causing a blackout that affects existing contracts

Case Law
– Early instances of recognizing tortious interference occurred in cases like Garret v Taylor and Tarleton v McGawley
– In Garret v Taylor, the defendant threatened customers and drove them away from the plaintiff’s quarry
– In Tarleton v McGawley, the defendant shot at natives to hinder their trading with the plaintiff’s rival trading ship
– Keeble v Hickeringill described the tort as a trespass on the case, where the defendant used a shotgun to drive ducks away from the plaintiff’s pond
– The application of tortious interference has been modified in English law, as seen in OBG v Allan

Damages and Related Concepts
– Elements of Tortious Interference: Existence of a contractual or beneficial business relationship, knowledge of the relationship by a third party, intent of the third party to induce a breach, lack of privilege on the part of the third party to induce the breach, breach of the contractual relationship, damage to the party against whom the breach occurs
– Damages in Tortious Interference: Economic losses, mental distress, punitive damages if malice is established, equitable remedies such as injunctive relief, negative injunction to prevent the wrongdoer from benefiting from any contractual relationship arising from the interference
– Example of Tortious Interference: Tortious interference with an expected inheritance, intentional prevention of receiving an inheritance or gift through fraud or duress, liability for loss of the inheritance or gift, requires intentional tortious means, subject to legal consequences for the wrongdoer
– Related Concepts: Contorts, Alienation of affections, Negligent interference with prospective economic advantage, Elements and requirements for negligent interference, Competitor’s privilege to compete for business
– Additional Notes and Sources: Elliott T. Ash’s article on intentional interference with contractual relations, Legal Information Institute’s information on tortious interference, J. C. S.’s article on negligent interference with contract, Herbert Smith Freehills’ article on inducement to breach of contract, various court cases and legal opinions on damages and liability in tortious interference cases

Tortious interference, also known as intentional interference with contractual relations, in the common law of torts, occurs when one person intentionally damages someone else's contractual or business relationships with a third party, causing economic harm. As an example, someone could use blackmail to induce a contractor into breaking a contract; they could threaten a supplier to prevent them from supplying goods or services to another party; or they could obstruct someone's ability to honor a contract with a client by deliberately refusing to deliver necessary goods.

A tort of negligent interference occurs when one party's negligence damages the contractual or business relationship between others, causing economic harm, such as by blocking a waterway or causing a blackout that prevents the utility company from being able to uphold its existing contracts with consumers.

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