Legal Memorandum: Tortious Interference with Contract Claim

Issue: What is required to prove the tort of interference with contract in the Virgin Islands?

Area of Law: Business Organizations & Contracts
Keywords: Contract; Tort of interference; Proof required
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 955 F. Supp. 441
Cited Statutes: 29 V.I.C. § 543 (13); 25 V.I.R. & R. § 131-2; Restatement (Second) of Torts § 766; V.I. Code Ann. tit. 1, § 4; Restatement (Second) of Torts § 768
Date: 04/01/2001

           A claim for tortious interference with contract requires proof that there was an existing contract; that the alleged tortfeasor had knowledge of the contract; that the alleged tortfeasor’s actions were the proximate cause of the third person’s failure to perform; and that the tortfeasor’s actions were intentional, improper, and caused damages.  See Restatement (Second) of Torts § 766. In the absence of proof that a third party has failed to perform, the claim for tortious interference must fail. See Government Guarantee Fund v. Hyatt Corp., 955 F. Supp. 441, 452 (D.V.I. 1997). See 29 V.I.C. § 543 (13); 25 V.I.R. & R. § 131-2.  In the absence of a contract, there can be no claim for interference with contractual relations. 

The Restatement (2d) of Torts (In the absence of local law to the contrary, the Virgin Islands has adopted the rules of common law as expressed in the American Law Institute’s Restatements of Law.  V.I. Code Ann. tit. 1, § 4 (2000)) provides:

One who intentionally causes a third person not to enter into a prospective contractual relation who is his competitor or not to continue an existing contract terminable at will does not interfere improperly with the others 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