Whether interference with contract is actionable whenever it is wrongful, or whether it is actionable only when it is malicious, is a question upon which there is some conflict in obiter. It is often said that interference with contract is actionable only if it is malicious.1 If X interferes with an existing contract between A and B, in order to injure A, A clearly has a right of action against X.2 If X desires to seek revenge against A, because A left X's employment, and X notifies A's employer, B, that X will not deal with B if B continues to employ A, and X thus secures A's discharge, X is liable to A. If the interference with an existing contract is wanton and malicious, it is actionable, whether the object of the person who interferes with such contract is to injure one of the parties thereto or to advance his own interests.3
3 See Sec. 2414 et seq.
4 Jersey City Printing Co. v. Cassidy, 63 N. J. Eq. 759, 53 Atl. 230; National Protective Union v. Cumming, 170 N. Y. 315, 88 Am. St. Rep. 648, 58 L. R. A. 135, 63 N. E. 369.
5 Glamorgan Coal Co. v. South Wales Miners' Federation , 1 K. B. 118.
6 Glamorgan Coal Co. v. South Wales Miners' Federation , 1 K. B. 118.
1 England. Quinn v. Leathern , A. C. 495.
Alabama. Brooks v. Ingram, 186 Ala. 106, 65 So. 138.
California. J. F. Parkinson Co. v. Santa Clara County Building Trades Council, 154 Cal. 581, 21 L. R. A. (N.S.) 550, 98 Pac. 1027.
New Hampshire. Moody v. Pertey, - N. H. - , 95 Atl. 1047.
Maryland. Willner v. Silverman, 109 Md. 341, 24 L. R. A. (N.S.) 895, 71 Atl. 962.
Minnesota. Tuttle v. Buck, 107 Minn. 145, 131 Am. St. Rep. 446, 22 L. R. A. (N.S.) 599, 119 N. W. 946.
See, Malice and Unlawful Interference, by Ernst Freund, 11 Harvard Law Review, 449.
The term "malice," in connection with interference with contract, frequently means nothing more than the doing of the wrongful act of interference without legal justification.4 Actual ill-will toward the injured party is not an essential feature of malice in this sense.5 In an action to recover damages for unlawful interference with contract, it is not necessary to prove a conspiracy or malice, even if both are alleged.6 It is sufficient to prove the unlawful interference with an existing contract.7 If X has caused B to break his contract with A by the performance of some wrongful act. the fact that X's purpose in doing such wrongful act was not primarily to cause B to break his contract with A, but to produce some other and different result, does not prevent X from being liable to A in damages.8 The fact that X intends to benefit himself by inducing B to break his contract with A, does not prevent A from recovering damages from X for the injury thus caused.9 The fact that X has induced B to break his contract with A, in order to benefit X financially, and without any active ill will toward A, does not prevent A from recovering damages from X for such breach.10 If B has a contract to buy goods from A, and X, knowing of such contract, offers B goods at a lower rate in order to induce him to break his contract with A, A may recover damages from X for such breach.11 If a false statement is made with the intention of interfering with the business of another, and such other is injured thereby, the fact that such statement was made with the primary intention of advancing the interests of the person who made it, does not prevent the injured person from recovering damages.12 If X makes unlawful threats against B,13 and thereby causes B to abandon his lease, X is liable to A, even if X made such threats for some other purpose,14 such as for the purpose of compelling B to pay money to X, which X claimed that B owed to him15 is said to be actionable when it is done "maliciously or without justifiable cause."17
2 Jones v. Leslie 61 Wash. 107, 48 L. R. A. (N.S.) 893, 112 Pac. 81.
3 Thacker Coal & Coke Co. v. Burke, 59 W. Va. 253, 5 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1091, 53 S. E. Ml.
4Wyeman v. Deady, 79 Conn. 414, 118 Am. St. Rep. 152, 65 Atl. 129; Bren-nan v. United Hatters, etc., 73 X. J. L. 729, 118 Am. St. Rep. 727, 9 L. R. A. (N.S.) 254, 65 Atl. 165.
5 Peek v. Northern Pacific Ry., 51 Mont. 295, L. R. A. 191GB, 835, 152 Pac 421.
6 Wyeman v. Deady, 79 Conn. 414, 118 Am. St. Rep. 152, 65 Atl. 129.
7 Wyeman v. Deady, 79 Conn. 414, 118 Am. St. Rep. 152, 65 Atl. 129.
8 Sandlin v. Coyle, 143 La. 121, L. R. A. 191SD, 389, 78 So. 261.
9 S. C. Posner Co. v. Jackson, 223 N. Y. 325, 119 N. E. 573.
10 Cumberland Glass Mfg. Co. v. De Witt, 120 Md. 381, Ann. Cas. 1915A, 702, 87 Atl. 927.
Absence of justifiable cause for the wrongful act is spoken of as malice, although the phrase "without just cause" is said to be a description rather than a definition.16 Interference with contract
11 Cumberland Glass Mfg. Co. v. De Witt, 120 Md. 381, Ann. Cm. 1915A, 702, 87 Atl. 927.
12Martineau v. Fotey, 231 Mass. 220, 1 A. L. R. 1143, 120 N. E. 445.
13Sandlin v. Coyle, 143 La. 121, L. R. A. 1918D, 389, 78 So. 261; Twitchell v. Glenwood-Ingle wood Co., 131 Minn. 375, 155 N. W. 021.
14Sandlin v. Coyle, 143 La. 121, L. R. A. 1918D, 389, 78 So. 261.
15Sandlin v. Coyle, 143 La. 121, L. R. A. 1918D, 389, 78 So. 261. 16 "The defendants did knowingly and for their own ends induce the. commission of an actionable wrong, and they employed illegal means to bring it about. Such conduct would be actionable in an individual and incapable of justification, a fortiori where the defendants acted in concert. These considerations seem to me to exclude from discussion in this case the illustrations given in argument of what might in given circumstances be 'just cause., or, in other words, suffice to negative malice. There was no relation between the defendants and either of the parties in this case at all analogous to those existing in the instances put of father and child, or doctor and patient, which 1 leave for solution when the case arises. The defendants have no higher immunity from legal obligations than any other members of the community, and if they have legal rights they can enforce them by legal means only. It is not at all necessary in this case to embark upon the question whether 'without just cause' is a com-plete equivalent for what was meant in the common law by malice. I am inclined to think that, though in many cases adequate as a description, it is not co-extensive with it, nor do I think that in civil actions any more than in criminal it will be possible to eliminate motives from the discussion. See the weighty observations of Lord Brampton on this point in Quinn v. Leathern , A. C. 495. It is, however, very desirable to guard against the notion that if the act done be illegal 'just cause' may still be averred to purge the wrong. For instance, where illegal means have been used to bring about the breach of a contract to the detriment of a party thereto, 'just cause' can not come into the discussion at all. The use of illegal means evidenced malice, and in this connection malice was not equivalent to 'without just cause.' The cause of intervention might be just, but the means used to enforce it might be illegal. The common-law action threw the burden of proof on the plaintiff. It was not enough for him to show that the defendant had brought about the breach of a contract between a third party and the plaintiff. He had to show that it was done maliciously, and the burden of proving malice lay upon him. It was not a case of a prima facie cause of action based on the fact that a breach of contract had been brought about to the detriment of the plaintiff, party thereto, by a stranger to the contract. The common law did not lightly extend rights arising out of contracts to and against persons not parties thereto, owing to the absence of privity (see the cases collected in the notes to Pas-ley v. Freeman, Smith's Leading Cases, 10th ed. 64). Some nexus had to be established between the plaintiff and the stranger, and this was found in malice. Unless the plaintiff could show this he failed to bring the stranger into such relations with him as to ground a cause of action, and, therefore, the burden was upon the plaintiff to prove a cause of action, not upon the defendant to justify. I think some confusion has crept into the discussions on this matter through want of sufficient regard to these elementary points." Read v. Friendly Society of Operative Stonemasons , 2 K. 8. 732.