Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

What is tortious interference and how can it affect business?

Doing business in New York will bring about some unavoidable challenges that are necessary to handle. Understanding how the law works when it comes to certain issues in a business relationship can help the participants avoid any serious and damaging problems that can lead to accusations of tortious interference and an avoidable business tort. It can also help those who have been affected by these acts. However, it's important to understand what wrongful interference is, how to recognize it and what to do to nip it in the bud or pursue legal satisfaction if the situation grows out of control.

Tortious interference refers to interference that is done intentionally to affect contract status. The courts can dole out compensation to those who have been subject to this behavior and negatively affected by it. If someone interferes with a business relationship, it may be viewed as tortious interference and it is possible to pursue a business tort because of it. An example of tortious interference is if a company has an employee under contract and another company convinces the employee to leave and work for their company instead. This also can occur with customers who are solicited by a competing company and convinced to give them the business.

It must be proven that there was economic loss as a result of the tortious interference in order to be compensated. That can include losing profit. It also can include a contract that has yet to be completed, but was on the verge of being signed before the other company interfered and convinced the prospective business contact to leave before the deal was completed.

It's tough enough to do business in New York without having to worry about competitors making illegal and untoward inroads into one's business contacts when deals appeared imminent or were already completed. Unscrupulousness is common in the dog-eat-dog world of running a business, but that doesn't mean those who were harmed by it don't have rights. Discussing the matter with a legal professional who can recognize tortious interference and assist those who have been hurt by it is often the key to receiving justice.

Source: The Houston Chronicle, "The Definition of a Wrongful Interference in a Business Relationship," Jill Stimson, accessed March 17, 2015

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