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Wrongful Interference with Contracts

Wrongful interference with a person’s contract or with his right to earn a living can be a tort.  This tort has been called contract interference or tortuous interference with contracts. The interference must generally be intentional and without legal justification.  Of course, the right to make a living or to conduct one’s business is subject to the rights of others, and legitimate competition between businesses in seeking to gain customers would not give rise to this tort.  This tort can be difficult to prove because of the right of competition.  Generally, it is necessary to prove that the defendant intentionally persuaded another to breach a contract with the plaintiff.

 In a 1988 Texas case, a city hired a consulting engineer who recommended that the city terminate the contract of a person because of the person’s defective work.  The employee sued the engineer. The consulting engineer was held not liable for intentional interference with the terminated employee’s contract because the consulting engineer was under a duty to keep the city properly informed of the quality of the employee’s work when it was defective.  However, if the consulting engineer had advised the city to fire a clerical worker just because the consulting engineer did not like the clerical worker, this could give rise to the tort of intentional inter­ference with the contract of another.

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