Economic torts provide the legal structure for liability arising from commercial transactions and business relationships, and aim to protect trade and normal business conduct. Breach of an economic tort generally results in pure economic loss. Although general business competition is expected and encouraged in a free market, economic torts can be generally linked by the existence of wrongful interference in a trade or business.
There are four main economic torts recognised in Australian law:
- Procuring a breach of contract
Where a person knowingly interferes with contractual rights, obligations, or the operation of a contract. This is a tort of secondary liability.
Where a person issues a threat to engage in unlawful conduct if specified demands are not met. This is an intentional tort.
- Unlawful interference with trade
Where a person commits an unlawful act directed at another, which interferes with that person’s trade or business interests.
Where there is an agreement between two or more parties to deprive a third party of legal rights, or to deceive them to obtain an illicit objective. There must be knowledge of the relevant circumstances and the agreement made.