Economic torts protect people from interference with their trade or business. The area includes the doctrine of restraint of trade and has largely been submerged in the twentieth century by statutory interventions on collective labor law and modern antitrust or competition law. The "absence of any unifying principle drawing together the different heads of economic tort liability has often been remarked upon."
Through a recent development in common law, beginning with Hedley Byrne v Heller in 1964, a victim of negligent misstatement may recover damages for pure economic loss caused by detrimental reliance on the statement. Misrepresentation is a tort as confirmed by Bridge LJ in Howard Marine and Dredging Co. Ltd. v A Ogden & Sons
Modern competition law is an important method for regulating the conduct of businesses in a market economy. A major subset of statutory torts, it is also called 'anti-trust' law, especially in the United States, articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, as well as the Clayton and Sherman Acts in the U.S., which create duties for undertakings, corporations and businesses not to distort competition in the marketplace. Cartels are forbidden on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. So is the abuse of market power by monopolies (sole producers in a market) or the substantial lessening of competition through a merger, takeover, acquisition or concentration of enterprises. A huge issue in the EU is whether to follow the U.S. approach of private damages actions to prevent anti-competitive conduct.