Academic journal article University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review

Intentionally Inflicted Economic Harm in Canada

Academic journal article University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review

Intentionally Inflicted Economic Harm in Canada

Article excerpt

I   INTRODUCTION
II  THE TWO TORTS DEFINED
III THE ANGLO-CANADIAN TORT IN PRACTICE
IV  THE ARGUMENTS
Malice is a Common and Useful Consideration in Tort Law
The Unlawful Means Standard is at Odds with Negligence Law
The Unlawful Means Standard is at Odds with the Law of Civil
    Conspiracy
The Unlawful Means Standard is Inherently Unstable
The Unlawful Means Standard is Essentially Parasitic
The Malice Standard has not been Unworkable in Foreign Jurisdictions
The Malice Standard is not Theoretically Incoherent
Malevolence is not that Uncommon
V   CONCLUSION

Abstract

'My obnoxious neighbour is paying my customers to take their business elsewhere. What can I do?" In the common law jurisdictions of Canada, the answer is nothing. Although there is a tort of intentional interference with economic relations, it requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant used a separately unlawful means. This could include a crime, a tort or some other misdeed that the courts have had difficulty defining. In a number of recent cases, the scope of 'unlawful means" has given rise to problems', see Drouillard v. Cogeco Cable Inc. (2007), 223 O.A.C. 350, OBG Ltd. v. Allan, [2007] 4 All E.R. 545 (H.L.) and Correia v. Canac Kitchens (2008), 240 O.A.C. 153. In this article, the author argues that the unlawful means requirement should be abandoned in favour of a legal malice standard. That is, the defendant should be liable if she caused economic harm intentionally and without legal justification, such as free speech or business competition. The legal malice standard is already employed in the United States, France and Germany, as well as in other areas of Canadian law, e.g., malicious prosecution and civil conspiracy. The author argues that such a reform would be in keeping with the fact that "unlawful means' has not been satisfactorily defined in over a century of jurisprudence, and the fact that reliance on a separately unlawful act produces a highly parasitic analysis. Permitting recovery for maliciously inflicted economic harm would also be sensible given the fact that Canada now permits recovery for negligently inflicted economic harm: see Canadian National Railway Co. v. Norsk Pacific Steamship Co., [1992] 1 S.C.R. 1021. In this article, the author addresses arguments with respect to predictability and coherence, and concludes that a legal malice standard is to be preferred.

Resume

'Mon odieux voisin paye mes clients pour qu'ils fassent affaire ailleurs. Que puis-je faire?' Au Canada, dans les juridictions de common law, la reponse est rien. Quoiqu'il existe un delit d'ingerence dans les relations economiques, ce dernier exige au demandeur de demontrer que le defendeur a utilise un moyen illicite. Il peut s'agir d'un crime, d'un delit ou d'autres mefaits que les tribunaux ont jusqu'a present eu du mal a definir. Dans certains recents arrets, la portee des termes << moyens illicites >> a ete embrouillee : voir Drouillard v. Cogeco Cable Inc. (2007), 223 O.A.C. 350, OBG Ltd. v. Allan, [2007] 4 Ail E.R. 545 (H.L.) et Correia v. Canac Kitchens (2008), 240 O.A.C. 153. Dans cet article, l'auteur suggere que l'element de << moyen illicite >> devrait etre abandonne en faveur d'une norme de malveillance. Ainsi, la defenderesse ayant cause un dommage economique et n'ayant en sa disposition aucune justification legale (liberte d'expression; concurrence) serait tenue responsable. Cette norme de malveillance est deja employee aux Etats-Unis, en France et en Allemagne, ainsi que dans d'autres domaines du droit canadien (poursuite malveillante et collusion). Une telle reforme tiendrait compte du fait qu'au cours de plus d'un siecle de jurisprudence, aucune definition satisfaisante de << moyens illicites >> n'a ete etablie. Elle considere egalement le fait qu'une analyse hautement parasitique resulte du fait qu'un moyen illicite est un element necessaire au delit. De plus, il serait logique de permettre une cause d'action pour recouvrer des dommages economiques infliges de facon malveillante puisque le Canada permet maintenant un recours pour les delits economiques causes par la negligence : voir Cie des chemins de fer nationaux du Canada c. …

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