What does tortious interference with a business relationship or contract mean?
Florida law recognizes that an existing contractual or business relationship can be a valuable asset to the parties involved in that relationship. Thus, when an outsider to the contract or business relationship takes steps to spoil the relationship or interfere with the contract, the law allows a remedy. In particular, a victim can bring a claim for tortious interference with contractual or business relations.
To prove a claim for tortious interference with a contractual or business relations under Florida law, a victim must generally prove the following:
(1) the existence of an enforceable contract or ongoing business relationship,
(2) the defendant’s knowledge of that contract or relationship,
(3) an intentional and unjustified interference by the defendant with the victim’s rights under the contract or relationship, and
(4) resulting damages.
As a general rule, there is no cause of action for interference that is merely negligent. The defendant’s interference must be intentional to give rise to a legal claim under this theory.
Not all conduct that interferes with another party’s contractual or business relations is improper,
however. The law recognizes several defenses to this type of legal claim. The most common of these defenses is known as qualified privilege. This means that certain types of people and businesses have a qualified or limited privilege to interfere with the contractual relations of other people or businesses under certain circumstances.
As an example, the law recognizes a limited privilege for persons or businesses to protect their own pre-existing
legal rights or financial interests. The law also recognizes a limited privilege to engage in lawful competition. These privileges are not absolute, and they are subject to many exceptions. Whether a given privilege applies will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case.
Please Note: Rabin Kammerer Johnson provides these FAQs for informational purposes only, and you should not interpret this information as legal advice. If you want advice as to how the law might apply to the specific facts and circumstances of your case, pleasecontact one of our attorneys.