Non-compete agreements are disfavored in Virginia. They must be narrowly tailored to protect the employer’s legitimate business interest, must not be unduly burdensome on the employee’s ability to earn a living, and must not be against public policy. Omniplex v. US Investigations, 270 Va. 246 (2005).
In general, a legal claim for tortious interference with an existing contract not terminable at will requires four elements. 1) A valid contractual relationship; 2) knowledge of the relationship by the interferer; 3) intentional interference; and 4) damage to the relationship. A contract terminable at will requires an additional element, that is, interference by “improper methods.” Illegal methods are considered improper, but improper methods need not be illegal. They can include other actions including but not limited to fraud, misrepresentation, misuse of inside information, breach of a fiduciary relationship, violation of an established standard of trade, unethical conduct and unfair competition. There are defenses to tortious interference with contract which can loosely be called “justification or privilege” and they include legitimate business competition, financial interest, responsibility for the welfare of another, directing business policy and giving requested advice.
Another claim is conspiracy to injure a business, which is a conspiracy between two or more persons to accomplish an unlawful purpose, or a conspiracy to accomplish some lawful purpose by unlawful means, resulting in damage. There is common law conspiracy based on case law, and statutory conspiracy which can be found in Va. Code § 18.2-499 & 500. Statutory conspiracy is attractive because it allows for an award of attorney fees, and treble damage awards. It must be proven by clear and convincing evidence, which is a higher standard than preponderance of the evidence, which is the standard for tortious interference with contract. The tort of tortious interference with contract can be the predicate unlawful act to support a claim for civil conspiracy.
In Virginia, a mechanic’s lien must be filed within 90 days from the last day of the month in which the labor or materials were furnished.
It depends. Some types of work do not require any contractor’s licenses. Other times, the lack of a contractor’s license is not a bar to collection. The mechanic’s lien statute relating to enforcement is to be liberally construed in favor workers. See American Standard Homes Corp. v. Reinecke, 245 Va. 113 (1993). Virginia does not make a lack of licensure an automatic bar to a suit for payment for work. See First Charter Land Corp. v. Middle Atlantic Dredging, Inc. 218 Va. 304 (1977)(“Lack of Licensure” defense defeated where proof showed owner failed to apprise contractor of registration statute and contractor substantially performed work in good faith). And where a contractor is “innocently unaware of the substantive requirements of the contractor’s statutes, his lack of licensure cannot be used as a defense ….” Dodson Roofing Co. v. Johnson, 32 Va. Cir. 400 (City of Richmond)(March 1, 1994).
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