Interference With a Prospective Advantage

A person may have an expectation that he will be entering into a contract or a relationship with another party or parties for a financial benefit in the future, and a defendant may interfere with that prospective advantage. If the defendant unlawfully does so, the injured party may bring an action against him.

Example: A worker has an expectation that a certain employer will hire him. A competitor of the employer sends a letter to the employer and defames the worker with false allegations concerning his work ethic so that employer will not hire him. This enables the competitor to offer the worker a job at a lower salary because he is not in demand. The competitor may be liable for interference with the worker's prospective advantage.

In order for a defendant to be liable for interfering with an injured party's prospective advantage, the injured party must show that the defendant actually knew about the prospect and that his interference was intentional. Mere negligent or inadvertent interference is not enough to sustain an action against him. The defendant's conduct must be unlawful or malevolent. The injured party must also show that he was damaged by the interference.

The defendant's conduct may be privileged if he is merely competing with the injured party and attempting to procure business for himself. The defense of privilege depends upon what the defendant is trying to accomplish and the method he uses to interfere.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.