The Author, Jyotsana Uplavdiya is a 3rd year Law student of NMIMS Kirit P Mehta School Of Law, Mumbai, Maharashtra. She is currently interning with LatestLaws.com.
There are several occasions when a person or an entity needs to take a legal action against another person or an entity and it is important for you to inform the other person that you are going to initiate a legal action against them.
A Legal notice is, therefore, a formal correspondence to a person or an entity, informing the other party of your intention to undertake legal proceedings against them. This notice, when sent, conveys your intention prior to the legal proceedings and thus, makes the party aware of your complaint.
One of the simplest reasons to comprehend why legal notices are used deals with fairness. For a lawsuit to proceed, it is easy to understand that the party being sued needs to be notified that they are being sued. From here on, this party can then do the essential steps to defend themselves, i.e. contract a lawyer and decide how to respond to the notice of the lawsuit.
Legal notices therefore are extremely important. They inform a party that they are being sued and serve as an indication that this party now needs to take action to defend him or her.
Legal notice is not mandatory in all cases. Certain statutes prescribe issue of legal notice before filing any case before a court of law. There are certain legislations which make it mandatory to file a legal notice before filing any litigation otherwise that litigation will be bad in law. For example S-80 of Civil Procedure code (CPC) provides issue of a legal notice prior to suing. S-138 of Negotiable Instruments Act makes it mandatory to send a cheque bounce notice before knocking on the court’s door.
Hence non filing of legal notice is fatal in certain cases. It can be said that a legal notice is more or less an imitation of the plaint. Procedural law is about following the proper procedures, even if the actual need for those procedures were already fulfilled. Even if the respondent is aware that a lawsuit is pending, proper notice must still be given so that the respondent cannot claim that he or she didn’t know about the lawsuit. Therefore, if issue of legal notice is not made mandatory by a statute, it may be avoided altogether, unless you have good reasons to issue a legal notice. But be careful to issue it by claiming all the reliefs that you are claiming against.
Under Section 80 of the civil procedure code mandates issuance of a notice for the institution of notice, it is considered to be a mere procedural requirement and not a substantive need. This is because the issuance of a notice does not necessarily affect the jurisdiction of the court in question. In the case of Dhina Singh v. Union Of India, It was held that this notice is for the benefit of the government or the public officer, it is the prerogative of the government to choose to waive the right. Furthermore in case of Commr. Of taxes v. Golak Nath, it was held by the courts that the facts of the particular case were vital to see if the right could be waivered or not.
Mostly a legal notice is sent in following cases:
- Property disputes
- Notice by employer
- Notice by employee
- Cheque bounce
- Breach of contract
- Consumer complaints
- Recovery of money
ESSENTIALS OF A LEGAL NOTICE:
There is a specific format which any lawyer shall follow, whether it is a Supreme Court or a District Court lawyer has to follow. First, we need to understand what a legal notice does consist of because it is very important that your legal notice is drafted elaborately covering all things that you demand from the opponent.
- All the required facts stating the grievance in brief which led to take a legal action.
- All the necessary details relating to the names of people involved, their address, contact information, grievance caused, date and time when the grievance was caused, previous attempts of contacting the person or company for resolving the dispute, and any document or evidence in relation with the grievance.
- The relief sought in money, kind or service from the person or company to whom the legal notice is being sent
- The laws under which the relief is being sought or action to be taken from the receiver.
- Notice that failure to appear at the prearranged time will result in a default judgment against the defendant (the plaintiff automatically wins).
- The court’s seal and a clerk’s signature.
A legal notice must be drafted with utmost care to include the above-mentioned points to avail the quickest remedy and avoid taking the matter to a court. A legal notice draft will eliminate the chances of it being challenged or quashed in the court. Once you send a legal notice, you cannot make any changes to it and cannot defend or negate anything mentioned in it. Therefore, a lawyer must be consulted to send a legal notice to a company/ person in India. With regards to sending a legal notice to any organization it is not obligatory that the notice must be served by any professional or any lawyer. If you are a resident of a metro city you can approach to Dispute Redressal Forum which can likewise provide you effective relief against company’s misfeasance but it is merely an alternative when the matter is not grievous.
Filing a Legal Notice
A legal notice requires precision and accuracy and use of definite language to ensure the message sent across is correct. The notice is sent on a plain paper or on the letterhead of the lawyer. This is process that one can follow for sending a legal notice:
- You must hire famous civil lawyers with good drafting skills to write a legal notice on your behalf. The legal notice must be drafted in a language understood by the receiver and it must be addressed to the person or company who has caused you the grievance.
- In the consulting session with the lawyer, please explain the information in detail – along with the names of parties involved, addresses, dates when commitments were made and not honoured, challenges and issues faced, any previous attempts at dialogue, etc.
- Particularly in instances of husband-wife disputes, a legal notice often brings the spouse for negotiation. In many instances, disputes are resolved via counselling or mutual consent.
- The legal advisor at that point drafts the notice in a legal language – clearly specifying the reason for sending the notice, all previous communications regarding the cause of notice and to offer the addressee a reasonable time (say 15 or 30 or 60 days to settle the matter through negotiation and by performing the desired action). It can be sent either physically or online via any mail etc.
- If the notice has been sent through post then keep a copy of receipt of post office as well as notice.
- Depending on the grievance, as a rule, the lawyers, in the interest of the client sending the notice, stress on the need for an action to be taken in the stipulated period of time to either fulfil the demand or seek a reply.
With the help of a legal notice a person or a company takes immediate action within the time limit provided, without the necessity to take the matter to the court.
Replying to Legal Notice
In spite of the fact that it’s not obligatory, yet it’s always advisable to reply appropriately to a Legal Notice, citing the relevant clauses of applicable Laws. “No Reply to a Legal Notice” can be an additional favourable position to the opposite side, if it opts to continue to the court. The consequence for non-replying is not an offence under law, but if replied in a fitting manner, there are chances of putting an end to the future filing of vexatious cases.
The other probability is In case you have received a legal notice and do not agree with the terms and conditions mentioned in it, you can consult a lawyer who will draft and send a reply to the legal notice. Generally, time limit to reply legal notice is 15-30 days depending on the subject matter of the legal dispute.
Unlike the traditional advice, one needn’t always consult a lawyer after receiving a legal notice. You can opt to call up the party concerned (who has sent you the notice) to amicably settle the matter and resolve the same in the best interests of time and money. But if that does not work then it is better to send a written reply so that the other side may not use it as an advantage for them while drafting the petition and put blame on you for not complying with the requirements of notice which has become the root cause for filing the case.
The first step (after reaching the lawyer) is to share your side of the story and the facts with the dates and time when the events occurred. This is to help your lawyer review the notice you have received and draft a reply based on the facts collected from you.
The procedure of writing a reply notice is similar to that of the legal notice mentioned above, on the letterhead of the lawyer, stating the reply in brief concentrating on each point mentioned in the legal notice, and duly signed by both the sender of reply notice and the lawyer hired.
A Legal notice in India is the very first step of any legal proceeding as it alerts a person to get prepared for a court action. A legal notice is like a word of warning sent as it lays down the conditions that the person receiving the notice is required to follow; otherwise a legal action may be taken against him.
One of the simplest reasons to comprehend why legal notices are used deals with justice. For a lawsuit to proceed, it is easy to understand that the party being sued needs to be notified that they are being sued. From here on, this party can then do the essential steps to defend themselves, i.e. contact a lawyer and decide how to respond to the notice of the lawsuit.
Legal notices are an essential part of adjudication process providing fair and reasonable chance to settle the disputed points and to intimate the parties of the legal action. It all depends on how a notice is drafted, whether the focus of lawyer is to settle the points of a dispute through arbitration /conciliation or to escalate tension by approaching the court.