Inquiring readers: Recently I ran across the Contracts Prof Blog, a member of the Blog Professor Blogs network. Professor Franklin G. Snyder kindly granted me permission to reprint in full a second post written by Professor Jeremy Telman of Valparaiso University on February 1, 2010. (See the first post at this link.) This post discusses the similarities and dissimilarities between a dance partnership and a marriage partnership in Northanger Abbey:
Thus the dashing Mr. Tilney addresses Catherine Morland, heroine of Northanger Abbey, upon discovering her in conversation with the odious Mr. Thorpe at the commencement of a dance:
That gentleman would have put me out of patience, had he staid with you half a minute longer. He has no business to withdraw the attention of my partner from me. We have entered into a contract of mutual agreeableness for the space of an evening, and all our agreeableness belongs solely to each other for that time. Nobody can fasten themselves on the notice of one, without injuring the rights of the other. I consider a country-dance as an emblem of marriage. Fidelity and complaisance are the principal duties of both; and those men who do not chuse to dance or marry themselves, have no business with the partners or wives of their neighbours.”
The conversation proceeds on the similarities and dissimilarities between a dance partnership and a marriage partnership. But if Catherine really wanted to impress Mr. Tilney, she would have pointed out that his real complaint sounded in tortious interference rather than in breach of contract.
Legal Definition of Tortious/Wrongful Intereference (in Business Relationship)
The theory of the tort or wrong of interference is that the law draws a line beyond which no one may go in intentionally intermeddling with the business affairs of others. So, a systematic effort to induce employees to leave their present employment and take work with another is unlawful when the purpose of such enticement is to cripple or destroy their employer rather than to obtain their skills and services in the legitimate furtherance of one’s own business enterprise.
It also becomes unlawful when the inducement is made through the use of untruthful means, or for the purpose of having the employees commit wrongs such as disclosing the former employer’s trade secrets. – ‘Lectric Law Library Lexicon