Many business litigation cases in California involve what is called “contract interference” with a legitimate business operation. As an Irvine business litigation lawyer can tell you, contract interference occurs in situations where a third party (who is not part of the contract) illegally gets in the way of a contract.
Elements of a Contract Interference Cause of Action
To prevail in a cause of action for contract interference, the lawsuit that your Irvine business litigation lawyer will file must show:
- a valid contract between the plaintiff and another party
- the defendant who allegedly interfered had knowledge of the contract
- the defendant intentionally acted to induce a breach of contract (or disruption of the contract)
- an actual breach or disruption of the contract occurred, and
- the plaintiff was damaged as a result of such interference.
For example, as your Irvine business litigation attorney will inform you, convincing a bank to refuse to lend additional money to a competitor could be considered interference with contractual relations.
Contract Interference Can Be Unintentional
Your Irvine business litigation lawyer can tell you that California law does not allow a cause of action for negligent contract interference. Yet, while the tort of interference with contractual relations is an intentional tort, it does not require that the defendant act with specific intent to interfere. In the competitive world of business, contract interference can occur inadvertently when competitors act without being aware that the actions are illegal, but think they are simply playing fairly for the sake of competition. The defendant’s actions must be intentional, but the law does not require that the defendant have had the specific intent to interfere with the contract.
Indeed, the line between fairly competing and unlawful contract interference is sometimes blurry. As a result, intense litigation can occur. Ultimately, as your Irvine business litigation attorney will inform you, the final decision regarding whether or not a party’s actions are lawful lies with a judge or jury.
Participating in any form of business litigation can be a nerve-racking experience, but an Irvine business litigation lawyer can make your situation less stressful if he or she is engaged at the appropriate time. If you are facing a business dispute, it is imperative that you understand all of your legal options. Contact an Irvine business litigation lawyer at Daily Aljian LLP today by calling 949-861-2524 to schedule a consultation.