Updated: Sep 11
This article explores the elements of a intentional interference with contractual relations claim in Washington.
What is intentional interference with contractual relations and why does it matter in a breach of contract case in the State of Washington?
Intentional interference with contractual relations is a tort claim in Washington. It provides a means of recovering damages from one party, who has caused another party to breach a contract with the party bringing the claim. With a breach of contract claim alone, the aggrieved party is limited to recovering monetary losses, such as loss of profit or newly incurred expenses. Because interference with contractual relations is a tort, and not a contract-based legal theory, the aggrieved party can also seek non-economic damages, such as punitive damages where the tortious conduct was reprehensible. Therefore, building a case around interference with contractual relations in a breach of contract case can increase the total amount of recovery for the plaintiff.
How to establish a cause of action for intentional interference with contractual relations:
To prove this claim, the plaintiff must show:
(1) the existence of a valid contractual relationship or business expectancy;
(2) the defendant's knowledge of and intentional interference with that relationship or expectancy;
(3) a breach or termination of that relationship or expectancy induced or caused by the interference;
(4) an improper purpose or the use of improper means by the defendant that caused the interference; and
(5) resultant damage.
An essential element to the cause of action for tortious interference with contractual relations requires the intentional procurement of the contract's breach. Where there is no breach of the contract, there can be no recovery.
A defendant acts without justification in procuring the breach of contract, if he acted for the purpose of appropriating the benefits of the plaintiff's contract; his conduct constituted an independent and intentional legal wrong; or he engaged in the conduct for the sole purpose of injuring the plaintiff.
Business can be cutthroat. But as you can see, being too cutthroat can end up costing you.
If you have more questions about interference with contractual relations in Vancouver, Washington, or breach of contract cases in general, please contact In-house | On-site to speak with a Vancouver, WA attorney.