Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

What is tortious interference?

It takes time and effort to decide to enter into a contract with another entity and often a contract is formed after the parties have engaged in extensive negotiations. Since a contract generally protects all parties involved in the transaction, it allows either an employer to start investing in an employee or one entrepreneur to begin relying on another. So what happens if a third party steps in and causes the contractual relations to break down in New York?

If a third party steps in with the intention to interfere in contractual relations, it may be possible to hold them liable under the business tort of 'intentional interference with contractual relations'. The claim arises under tort law and the person who interfered in the contract-the tortfeasor-may be liable to pay damages.

In order to prove tortious interference, the plaintiff- the non breaching party to the contract-must demonstrate the specific elements of the tort. The burden is on the plaintiff to prove these elements, not on the tortfeasor to prove their acts were justified. The plaintiff must prove that their was a valid contract between the two parties and the defendant had knowledge of the contract, but then that the defendant acted intentionally and improperly, resulting in the plaintiff becoming injured by his actions. It is essential to prove each of the four elements to ensure a successful claim.

Since the whole case hinges on gathering evidence and proving each individual element, it may be in the non breaching party's favor to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible for assistance in preparing their case and exercising their rights.

Source: Legal Information Institute, "Intentional Interference with contractual relations," Accessed on Nov. 10, 2015

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