California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

2201. Intentional Interference With Contractual Relations

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] intentionally interfered with the contract between [him/her/it] and [name of third party]. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1. That there was a contract between [name of plaintiff] and [name of third party];

2. That [name of defendant] knew of the contract;

3. That [name of defendant] intended to disrupt the performance of this contract;

4. That [name of defendant]’s conduct prevented performance or made performance more expensive or difficult;

5. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and

6. That [name of defendant]’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing [name of plaintiff]’s harm.

New September 2003

Directions for Use

If the validity of a contract is an issue, see the series of contracts instructions (CACI No. 300 et seq.).

Sources and Authority

  • “The elements which a plaintiff must plead to state the cause of action for intentional interference with contractual relations are (1) a valid contract between plaintiff and a third party; (2) defendant’s knowledge of this contract; (3) defendant’s intentional acts designed to induce a breach or disruption of the contractual relationship; (4) actual breach or disruption of the contractual relationship; and (5) resulting damage.” (Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. Bear Stearns & Co. (1990) 50 Cal.3d 1118, 1126 [270 Cal.Rptr. 1, 791 P.2d 587], internal citations omitted.)
  • “[A] cause of action for intentional interference with contract requires an underlying enforceable contract. Where there is no existing, enforceable contract, only a claim for interference with prospective advantage may be pleaded.” (PMC, Inc. v. Saban Entertainment, Inc. (1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 579, 601 [52 Cal.Rptr.2d 877].)
  • “Because interference with an existing contract receives greater solicitude than does interference with prospective economic advantage, it is not necessary that the defendant’s conduct be wrongful apart from the interference with the contract itself.” (Quelimane Co. v. Stewart Title Guaranty Co. (1998) 19 Cal.4th 26, 55 [77 Cal.Rptr.2d 709, 960 P.2d 513], internal citations omitted.)
  • “It is not enough that the actor intended to perform the acts which caused the result—he or she must have intended to cause the result itself.” (Kasparian v. County of Los Angeles (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 242, 261 [45 Cal.Rptr.2d 90].)
  • Restatement Second of Torts, section 766A provides: “One who intentionally and improperly interferes with the performance of a contract (except a contract to marry) between another and a third person by preventing the other from performing the contract or causing his performance to be more expensive or burdensome, is subject to liability to the other for the pecuniary loss resulting to him.”
  • “Plaintiff need not allege an actual or inevitable breach of contract in order to state a claim for disruption of contractual relations. We have recognized that interference with the plaintiff’s performance may give rise to a claim for interference with contractual relations if plaintiff’s performance is made more costly or more burdensome. Other cases have pointed out that while the tort of inducing breach of contract requires proof of a breach, the cause of action for interference with contractual relations is distinct and requires only proof of interference.” (Pacific Gas & Electric Co., supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 1129, internal citations omitted.)
  • “[I]nterference with an at-will contract is actionable interference with the contractual relationship, on the theory that a contract ‘at the will of the parties, respectively, does not make it one at the will of others.’ ” (Pacific Gas & Electric Co., supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 1127, internal citations and quotations omitted.)
  • “We conclude that a plaintiff seeking to state a claim for intentional interference with contract or prospective economic advantage because defendant induced another to undertake litigation, must allege that the litigation was brought without probable cause and that the litigation concluded in plaintiff’s favor.” (Pacific Gas & Electric Co., supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 1137.)

Secondary Sources

5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 741, 742, 759

3 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 40, Fraud and Deceit and Other Business Torts, §§ 40.110—40.117 (Matthew Bender)

49 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 565, Unfair Competition (Matthew Bender)

12 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 122, Interference (Matthew Bender)