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Understanding prima facie in tortious interference cases

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | Business Law |

Tortious interference refers to a situation where one party interferes with another’s business. Businesses that can prove this interference occurred may receive compensation in the form of lost wages and profits, as well as other punitive or compensatory damages.

However, taking a case to court requires providing enough evidence for a judge to consider it prima facie.

Definition of prima facie

Prima facie is a Latin term that means “at first sight” or “on its face.” In legal terms, it refers to a case or claim that, on first examination, appears to have enough evidence to proceed to trial or that merits acceptance as valid unless proven otherwise.

Non prima facie

The opposite of a prima facie case is a non prima facie case or simply a case where the plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie case. In legal terminology, this definition means the plaintiffs have not provided enough initial evidence to support their claim. As a result, a judge may dismiss the claim.

Prima facie cases for tortious interference

In the context of tortious interference, establishing a prima facie case means providing documentation that the defendant maliciously interfered with a valid contractual or business relationship, causing harm to the plaintiff. Doing so requires evidence that the third party had knowledge of having a valid relationship with the plaintiff.

Evidence for types of interference

The following are examples of evidence for claims of various types of interference:

Intentional interference with contract: Explicit statements or actions that disrupted a contractual relationship

Intentional interference with prospective economic advantage: Communications that targeted specific clients

Negligent interference with prospective economic advantage: Proof that the defendant disrupted business by acting carelessly

Interference with business relations: Patterns of behavior that disregarded the plaintiff’s existing or potential business relationships

Proof of communications might include emails, text messages or recorded conversations. Eyewitnesses might also offer first-hand accounts as proof of behavior.

If a judge decides a case is not prima facie, he or she may dismiss it. A judge may also ask the plaintiff to provide more evidence before letting the case proceed.


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