Unfortunately, all too often business competitors resort to unfair and improper tactics to gain an advantage in business. A common example occurs when a competitor maliciously or intentionally interferes with a company’s contracts or business relationships. When this occurs, businesses have to consider whether a legal remedy is available.
In Connecticut, courts have long recognized the business litigation claim of tortious interference with contractual relations as an available remedy for this type of conduct. To be successful against a competitor in a lawsuit for this claim, a business must prove three essential elements:
- Existence of a contract or beneficial business relationship
- Knowledge of the relationship
- Intentional interference with the contract or business relationship
- Actual loss or damage
Upon first consideration, tortious interference with a contract might seem to apply to many business competitors. However, Connecticut courts require more than mere interference for a successful lawsuit. In particular, not every act of interference is actionable in court.
In Connecticut, a business must also prove that the interference was "improper" or with an "improper motive." A business can prove that interference with a contract was improper by demonstrating any of the following:
- Fraud or misrepresentation
- Other improper motive or means
Although the improper motive element is harder to prove, a successful claim could also result in an award of punitive damages. Additionally, a business does not have to prove that the interference actually resulted in a breach of the contract or business relationship.
As such, if your business is dealing with a competitor that has crossed the line and resorted to fraud or unfair practices to harm your business, a lawsuit for tortious interference with contractual relationship is one of the available remedies in Connecticut.