Oftentimes, it so happens that an individual or entity might have to take legal action against another individual or entity. This legal action can arise out of several issues like property disputes, eviction, consumer complaints, etc. During such situations, the person taking the action should inform the other party about the action being initiated, and that is when they send them a legal notice regarding the same.
What is a Legal Notice?
A legal notice is a formal written document that helps to communicate between two parties. Usually, the sender notifies the other parties of their grievances because of which they are intending to take legal action against the latter. In this way, the receiver of the notice also gets acquainted with the grievances of the sender. A legal notice is regarded as a warning to the receiver to take some actions and settle the grievances of the former to avoid taking matters to the court. Therefore, this is a way in which matters can be settled without litigation procedures being involved, and instead by negotiating, and some mediation and arbitration. Legal notice can be filed in accordance with Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and can be filed only for civil cases.
A legal notice usually carries the following information:
- The recipient’s name and address is mandatory
- The precise causes and grievances because of which the legal proceedings will be taken by the sender
- Ways and alternatives of settlement that the sender party prefers
- The modes in which the problems can be settled.
The legal notice can be drafted by the sender himself, or by the letterhead of the lawyer involved. It can be sent to the other party directly or through his lawyer. A well-written legal notice has the potential to solve issues between the two parties without taking matters to the court if both are open to compromise on the matter.
These are some essential information that a well-crafted legal notice should contain:
- Name of the recipient and required description
- Residential address of the sender
- The statement explaining the cause of legal action
- The relief that the sender claims (can be monetary or other)
- The legal basis of the relief claimed summarized
Situations in Which a Legal Notice is used
- Consumer Forum: In the case of buying and selling of goods, when the faulty service is provided, a legal notice stating grievances along with relief claims can be sent. Usually, when the seller fails to fulfill their responsibility of good supply to consumers, the latter can send a legal notice to the seller. The same applies when the consumer is dissatisfied with the goods and services provided by the seller.
- Matters of Land and Property: issues and disputes relating to property and land, such as eviction of the tenants, the partition of property, mortgages, succession, delay in the delivery of possession by builders, etc. can result in a legal notice being sent from the grieving party to the party concerned. Such discrepancies and disputes can be settled out of court if both parties agree to compromise, and negotiate to solve the issues.
- Matters Involving Employers and Employees: Both employer and employee can send legal notices to the other in many situations. Any employee can send a legal notice to the employer if they are facing any violation of their rights, when salary is not received, or wrongful termination. Similarly, employers can also send legal notices to the employee if they have violated any of the provisions made in the employment agreement, violated HR policies, in cases of sexual harassment in the workplace, and more.
- Financial matters: legal notices can be sent from one party to the other in matters regarding money, like repayment of loans, check bouncing cases, and recovery of money. The sender has to mention their grievance in a well-drafted legal notice, and matters can be settled outside court if the receiver agrees to make the right amends. Especially in case of default in the repayment of loans, as per the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act), the process of debt recovery begins with a legal notice being sent to the defaulter for the payment recovery.
- Personal cases: Legal notices can be sent in case of personal situations like divorce, child custody, maintenance, etc.
Is it Mandatory to Serve a Legal Notice?
It is not mandatory to send a legal notice as it is not mandated by any law or enactment to do so before filing a lawsuit. However, in accordance with Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, it is mandatory to send a legal notice to the opposite party if they are a Government officer or Public Officeholder. Usually, an advocate drafts a legal notice on behalf of their client with the objective to solicit a settlement. The reason why a legal notice is drafted is to let the opposite party know that the aggrieved party is making a last effort to reach a solution with them outside court. If the matters are not settled through litigation, then they are intending to sue the opposite party.
Best Things to Practice while Sending a Legal Notice
- While an individual can draft a legal notice on their own, it is best to get it drafted by an advocate or a lawyer
- One should make sure that the letter gets drafted on a lawyer’s letterhead
- Always keep two copies of the notice handy with you and your lawyer
- It is best to post the letter in an envelope bearing the lawyer’s name and logo if any
- The letter should carry the signatures of both the sender and their lawyer.
Legal procedures are time-consuming and expensive. If the matter is not very crucial and can be settled with some compromises between the two parties outside court, that is when a legal notice comes to aid. It is like a final warning from the sender to the receiver for settlement outside court through ways of negotiation, arbitration and litigation. When the matters are critical or when two parties are not open to a settlement, then one should surely opt for a formal legal proceeding to settle the matter.