Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Unlawful Interference with Economic Interests Definition:

An intentional and economic tort; one person using unlawful means with the object and effect of causing economic or other damage to another.

Related Terms: Economic Tort, Intimidation, Inducing Breach of Contract, Intentional Tort, Conspiracy, Civil Conspiracy

Also referred to as unlawful interference with economic and other interests.

A catch-all economic tort described by Clerk & Lindsell (20th Ed., 2010) as:

"A tort of uncertain ambit which consists in one person using unlawful means with the object and effect of causing damage to another."

In Posluns v. Toronto Stock Exchange, Justice Gale of the Ontario High Court of Justice wrote:

"(W)hile some of the judgments are not susceptible of easy interpretation, perhaps because in many instances they were so elaborate, and others give the appearance of irreconcilability, there can be no doubt that our law recognizes as tortious any unjustifiable and unlawful violation of economic interests which causes harm."

More recently (1998), Justice Cumming of the Ontario Supreme Court used these words in 671122 Ontario Ltd. v Sagaz, at ¶61:

"(T)here is a tort in the Canadian common law which I shall call the tort of unlawful interference with economic relations. The elements of the tort of unlawful interference with economic relations are: (1) the existence of a valid business relationship or business expectancy between the plaintiff and another party; (2) knowledge by the defendant of that business relationship or expectancy; (3) intentional interference which induces or causes a termination of the business relationship or expectancy; (4) the interference is by way of unlawful means; (5) the interference by the defendant must be the proximate cause of the termination of the business relationship or expectancy; and (6) there is a resultant loss to the plaintiff."

As to what mightg be understod by unlawful means, note these words of Justice Denning in Torquay Hotel:

"I must say a word about unlawful means, because that brings in another principle. I have always understood that if one person deliberately interferes with the trade or business of another, and does so by unlawful means, that is, by an act which he is not at liberty to commit, then he is acting unlawfully, even though he does not procure or induce any actual breach of contract. If the means are unlawful, that is enough."

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