Legal notice is a formal communication to a person or entity informing him that you intend to undertake legal proceedings against him / her. It is a step taken before filing a suit, and is meant to warn the other party that legal action may be taken against him/her, if he/she fails to comply with some specified condition.
In what cases can we send a Legal Notice
Most common cases where I have engaged with my clients in sending legal notices is in case of Property disputes, Dishonor of Cheque, Family disputes pertaining to asset distributions, Husband / Wife conflicts as a warning before taking legal action against the spouse, Consumer complaints and cases where salary / wage commitments are not met.
How to send a Legal notice / what is the process for sending a Legal Notice
Many times we do not know the legal importance and meaning of the usual words which we use in a casual manner, engaging a qualified lawyer helps in drafting the legal-notice. Extreme care is taken about the choice of words and language used and measures of caution about not admitting any fact which you may later be denied in a court of law. Once the legal notice is dispatched than you cannot make any changes in that and later on also you cannot make any contradictory statement from what you have already stated in a legal notice. The Notice is sent on a plain paper or on the letterhead of the lawyer.
Step 1: Connect with a lawyer who carries good in drafting skills, the notice can be sent in any Indian Language, usually English is been the preferred choice of my clients. The notice should be addressed to the person against whom you have the grievances.
Step 2: In your consulting session with the lawyer, please explain the information in detail with names of parties involved; address, dates when commitments were made and not honoured, challenges and issues faced, any previous attempts of dialogue etc…
Especially in case of husband-wife dispute, in my personal experience I have observed a legal notice often brings the spouse for negotiation and in many instances disputes are resolved via counselling or mutual consent
Step 3: The lawyer carefully studies your information shared, makes relevant and required notes in the conversation with you and seeks any additional information if required.
Step 4: The lawyer then drafts the notice in a legal language clearly mentioning the reason for sending the notice, all previous communications regarding the cause of notice and offer the addressee a reasonable time say 15 days or 30 days or 60 days to settle the matter by negotiating and by performing the desired action.
Depending on the grievance usually the lawyers on behalf of the client sending the notice stress for an action to be performed in the stipulated period of time to either fulfils the demand or seek a reply.
Step 5: The notice is duly signed by both the client and the lawyer and is either sent via Registered Post or Courier and ensure the acknowledgement is retained. Usually a copy of the notice is retained by the lawyer.
Step 6: The expectation is after the notice is received by the other party; he/she will reply back, but as a standard best practice the lawyer in some time calls up the other party. I ethically believe it’s a good practice to follow and especially in cases of husband-wife conflicts usually I call up the person to whom notice is sent requesting to come up for counselling or discussion and try resolve matters out of court.
What should you do after receiving the Legal Notice
In case you are not the sender but have received a legal notice the steps to be followed are as follows:
Step 1: Unlike a traditional advice, not always after receiving the legal notice you need to consult a lawyer. You can opt to call up the party in concern who has sent you the notice to amicably settle down the matter and resolve the same in the best interest of time and money.
Step 2: If you believe the notice sent or the information in the notice is not accurate or need to contest and need legal help, approach a qualified lawyer who can take necessary actions. The first step after reaching the lawyer is to share your side of the story and the facts with date and time when the events occurred so that the lawyer will review the notice you have received and will draft a reply based on the facts collected from you.
Step 3: In this case too, the lawyer will send the reply to the notice via courier or registered post. A copy of the notice sent and received both are retained in the lawyer office along with the acknowledgement receipts or all communications. Your lawyer will also in sometimes communicate with the lawyer of the other party to enable a smooth flow and try resolving matters at your end.
The exchange of legal notices usually results in the commencement of litigation between the parties as the party sending the notice may take recourse to civil/criminal law remedies.
Points to remember
· The party being served with the lawsuit / notice is called “the respondent” or “defendant”. A legal notice may be responded to only if it has merit and needs to be replied to.
· One of the simplest reasons to understand why legal notices are used deals with fairness. It is possible that the notice sent by the plaintiff may not reach the respondent, this can be due to change in address location or information about the respondent is not available to the plaintiff, so far I have not come across such a situation, there are definitely certain legal steps we can take in these situations.
· If the notice has substance and the facts stated therein, if litigated against in the court would go against you, then do consult a qualified and reputed lawyer who practices in the issues related to the notice being sent and discuss with him / her. For ex. If the notice is with respect to property disputes visit a civil lawyer, or if family disputes visit a lawyer who practices family law and so on…
· Leave it to your lawyer whether or not to reply the notice. Your initial consultation with the lawyer will help you understand if its required to reply or not or what are the right steps to resolve the issue at hand.
· In case the notice is converted into a suit it’s mandatory for you to respond. Ensure all your facts are in place so that the next steps by your lawyer are advised in due course of action.
Legal notices are a vital principal of the courts providing fairness and due process by giving all parties affected by the lawsuit or legal proceeding notice of the legal procedure. No party can operate in secret and all court actions must be apparent to all parties to the case.
In my experiences especially in matters of cheque defaults and family disputes, husband wife conflicts I have resolved matters before reaching the courts through counselling and arbitration / mediation and mutual understanding, legal notice plays a very vital role here and it all depends on how you draft one, the focus of your lawyer should be to resolve the issue at hand and not to create or escalate tensions.
Shared by Adv. Vinod Sampat