Tort of Intimidation and Real Estate Agents
The situation here is that Bob wants Harold to comply with his wishes, and he threatens Harold about committing an unlawful act.
Harold, is not pleased but succumbs to the pressure tactic and complies because of the threat. The threat itself could be made to Harold directly, or to a third party that Harold would be concerned about.
The threat in respect to an unlawful act could be:
- To commit a crime,
- To commit a tort (a civil wrong), or
- To breach a contract.
In all cases, the act must be unlawful in order to constitute the tort of intimidation.
Let’s assume that Bob is a real estate agent and has a listing for Bill’s property. He holds an open house, meets Harold who eventually purchases the property.
Bob then lists Harold’s investment property for sale. An offer comes in which is much below the price that Harold wanted to achieve.
Bob then threatens Harold with the non-completion of the purchase of Bill’s property. He says Bill will refuse to complete the transaction. This will leave Harold in a mess, since he will have nowhere to live.
This scenario would constitute the tort of intimidation. Bob threatened an illegal act. He said he would get Bill to refuse to close. This would be inducing a breach of contract, and amount to an unlawful act.
In this case, Bob would be responsible for Harold’s damages. It’s important to remember, that in our example, Bill didn’t know anything about this. Bob simply made this threat to Harold.
So, remember, that it’s one thing to be persuasive but it’s totally improper to be “overly persuasive” if these intimidation tactics are to be used.
This is another example of a "business tort" that applies to the real estate industry.Obviously, this is not a case of business as usual.
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker