What is tortious interference - and how do you prove it under New York law?

There are 2 kinds of tortious interference claims that exist under New York law:

1) where a third party interferes with an existing contract; and,

2) where the third party interferes with a prospective contract, or in other words, a contract that hasn’t come into being as yet.

The nature and extent of the proof required for each differs in important ways.

  • Interference With Contract - In order to prove interference with contract, the plaintiff must demonstrate the defendant was aware of the plaintiff's contract with a third party, and then caused that third party to renege on its agreement with the plaintiff without justification.
  • Interference With Prospective Advantage – Since this cause of action doesn’t deal with a pre-existing agreement, the plaintiff’s burden of proof is much higher. In addition to the above, the plaintiff is also obligated to establish that the defendant used “wrongful means," such as "physical violence, fraud, misrepresentation or undue economic pressure" in an effort to prevent the third party from completing its contract with the plaintiff.




Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer