For a business to thrive in Florida, owners must work hard and smart to provide the best services or products, advertise them correctly, build a strong brand and have some advantage over their competitors. There are times when people try so hard to stay ahead in the market that they even consider unethical and illegal strategies that are harmful to their competition. The law describes these behaviors as tortious interference, and the court severely punishes the offenders.
Understanding tortious interference
Tortious interference occurs when a person intentionally interferes with another’s contract, business relationship or prospective economic advantage without legal justification. The most common forms of this behavior include slander, libel, misappropriation of trade secrets, inducing others to breach contracts and using unfair tactics to win a competitive edge.
How to deal with tortious interference in Florida
If you suspect tortious interference, the first step you should take is to gather evidence and build a strong case against the offending party. This includes documenting any statements or actions that might prove malicious intent on the part of the offender, contacting witnesses, recording conversations and saving emails that you or clients might have exchanged with your competitor.
If possible, it’s best to resolve the issue without involving legal action by speaking directly with the person responsible for the interference. If they are uncooperative or unwilling to make amends, then commercial litigation may be necessary.
A successful tortious interference claim typically requires providing evidence of:
- An existing relationship or contract between two parties
- Intentional conduct by the offender
- A lack of legal justification for that conduct
- Actual damages caused by the interference
Understanding what constitutes tortious interference in Florida is key to protecting yourself and your business interests when dealing with unfair competition or malicious acts.