A business owner whose business has suffered a current of future financial loss because of the actions of a competitor may be able to pursue commercial litigation against a competitor due to:
- Tortious interference with a contract
- Tortious interference with prospective economic advantage
A “tort” is an act or omission by another party that causes harm. It’s not the same as a breach of contract. It may even apply before a contract is signed. What needs to be proved is that one party (person or business) did something that intentionally undermined another party’s business contract, transaction, or relationship.
Commercial Litigation for Tortious Interference With a Contract
In order to successfully litigate a case of interference with a contract, the injured business will need to prove that:
- A valid contract exists between you, party A, and another business, party B,
- A third party knew there was a valid contract
- That third party took some action to intentionally disrupt or interfere with your contract
- That interference was unjustified or improper (it could be that party B was threatened or bribed in some way)
- And it caused party B to breach their business contract with you, which
- Caused harm to your business
Business Litigation for Tortious Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage
A lawsuit for interference with prospective economic advantage differs from interference with a contract in that a valid contract does not yet exist. There was a reasonable expectation of a business transaction or the start of a business relationship. That’s what was damaged because of the actions of another.
Let’s say you tell a colleague that you are going to be buying a product from a company for $X and it’s a great deal because you expected to pay $Y. That colleague tells the company you would have paid more … and then they increase the price. Now your business suffers real economic harm.
Or you tell someone you are going to be signing a rental agreement for a building and the person you spoke to then rented the building before you could do so.
These cases can be harder to prove in commercial litigation. You need to show that:
- A business relationship existed or was soon going to exist (you weren’t just thinking about it)
- It would have been a benefit to you in a realistic way (you can prove the benefit)
- The person you are suing knew of that relationship
- And intentionally interfered
- In a way that caused damage to your business relationship and
- Financial loss to you
In order to prevail in court, you will have to prove that the person/company that interfered could have foreseen the negative consequences. It wasn’t accidental that they mentioned something in passing and the wrong person overheard it. The offending party had a motive or vested interest in seeing that the contract or business relationship was breached. And they had the ability to influence that action that occurred.
Damages for Interference with a Business Contract
If your business suffered harm because of the actions of a competitor business, you could seek financial compensation to offset your business losses. You could also seek an injunction, asking the offending business to stop a certain behavior. Or you could as for restitution: for example, that a contract that had been canceled be reinstated.
The court could also award punitive damages if they felt that the offending business’ behavior was particularly egregious.
Talk to a Commercial Litigation Attorney
The Fell Law Firm represents businesses and business owners in contract disputes and commercial litigation in the Dallas-Richardson-Plano area. Mr. Fell can review the facts of your case and advise on the best option to move forward. Call 972-450-1418 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation.