The recognition of inducement of breach of contract as a tort came only in comparatively recent times, its first clear enunciation being in Lumley v. Gye in 1853. Prior to that case there had been an accepted doctrine that interference with the relation of master and servant was an actionable wrong. Sayre finds the roots of the liability for enticement of servants in the Ordinance of Labourers passed after the Great Plague, and in a confusion of the action based on that statute and the action for forcibly interfering with the servants of another. In Lumley v. Gye the action for enticement was held broad enough to cover the malicious procuring of an opera singer who was under contract with the plaintiff for exclusive services for a definite term. The question did not come up for decision again until the year 1881 when the case of Bowen v. Hall was decided. Until that decision was made it was considered dubious whether Lumley v. Gye would be followed. This case also involved exclusive personal services, and not the strict relation of master and servant. The case, too, emphasized the malice of the defendant as an essential fact in the decision, the court saying that merely to induce another to break his contract may not be wrongful in law or fact. In Temperton v. Russell in 1893 where the defendants, union leaders, procured persons to break contracts with the plaintiff and also not to enter further contracts, the final step was taken and the court said that the right of action for maliciously procuring a breach of contract is not confined to personal service contracts, but includes contracts of all kinds. This case has been followed in England and the law there seems well settled that an action will lie for inducing breach of contract regardless of the nature of the contract. The vast majority of American courts have adopted this view. A few states flatly reject the doctrine, and a few more limit its scope to the master-servant contract.
TORTS - INDUCING BREACH OF CONTRACT,
Mich. L. Rev.
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