The Different Requirments for Pleading Tortious Interference With Prospective Business Relations and Tortious Interference With Contract

In Illinois, tortious interference with contract and tortious interference with prospective business relations are two distinct torts with different pleading requirements.

To establish a case for tortious interference with contract, the plaintiff must show the following [7]:
1) Existence of a valid and enforceable contract between the plaintiff and another party
2) The defendant’s awareness of this contractual relationship
3) The defendant intentionally and unjustifiably induced a breach of the contract, which results in a subsequent breach by the other contracting party
4) The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the breach.

In contrast, to make a claim for tortious interference with prospective business relations, the plaintiff needs to prove:
1) A reasonable expectation of entering into a valid business relationship
2) The defendant had knowledge of the plaintiff’s expectancy
3) The defendant intentionally and unjustifiably interfered with the expectancy, causing a termination of the expectancy
4) The defendant’s interference resulted in damages to the plaintiff.

It’s important to note that in cases of tortious interference with prospective business relations, the plaintiff must identify a reasonable business expectancy with a “specific third party” to survive summary judgment. A reasonable expectancy requires more than just the hope or opportunity of a future business relationship.

The primary distinction between these two torts is the level of protection they afford. Tortious interference with contract requires the existence of a legally binding contract between parties, whereas tortious interference with prospective business relations only necessitates a mere business expectancy. Consequently, in the latter case, the interference by the defendant must be directed toward a third party, not the plaintiff

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