Tortious interference with business expectancy consists of the (1) existence of a valid business expectancy; (2) knowledge of the expectancy by the party being sued; (3) intentional interference which induced breach of the expectancy; (4) absence of justification; and (5) damages.
The existence of a valid business expectancy is usually one of the more tricky elements in litigation, particularly if the claim is being levied against a competitor. Under Missouri law, as a court once explained, a competitor can be liable under the following guidelines:
Competition as Proper or Improper Interference (1) One who intentionally causes a third person not to enter into a prospective contractual relation with another who is his competitor or not to continue an existing contract terminable at will does not interfere improperly with the other’s relation if
(a) the relation concerns a matter involved in the competition between the actor and the other and
(b) the actor does not employ wrongful means and
(c) his action does not create or continue an unlawful restraint of trade and
(d) his purpose is at least in part to advance his interest in competing with the other.
(2) The fact that one is a competitor of another for the business of a third person does not prevent his causing a breach of an existing contract with the other from being an improper interference if the contract is not terminable at will.
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