What is a Legal Notice?
A legal notice is a formal document used for initiating communication between two parties/persons. One of the parties/persons in question sends a legal notice to the other party in lieu of informing their grievances with them and further inform them of their intention of taking legal action against them. The purpose of sending a legal notice is also to give appropriate time to the receiving party/person to resolve the conflict. Many times, the negotiations result in a positive outcome; thereby resolving the matter and saving the expenditure of a lengthy court trial. However, the other party refuses to acknowledge the said grievances, then going to court is the only option.
What are the charges for Sending a Legal Notice?
A legal notice is usually sent to the opposite party in civil cases because in criminal cases the State itself issues a warrant against in case of a criminal offense. The following civil cases usually require legal notice intimation to the other party:
- consumer complaint case– for providing faulty products and services or falsely advertising their product and misleading the public.
- property dispute case- The following cases require a legal notice intimation a) partition disputes within a family; b) mortgage delay; c) if a builder delays to provide possession; d) eviction of the tenant.
- complaints against the employer– an employee can send a legal notice to their employer for a)wrongful termination; b)sexual harassment; c)unpaid salary; or d) any misuse or abuse of power.vis-i- vis the employee.
- complaints against an employee– an employer can intimate a legal notice against an employee for a) violation of HR policies; b) violation of Employment Agreement; or c) sexual harassment complaint against the employee.
- personal conflict case– these cases include a) divorce settlement; b) violation of prenup agreement; c) child custody (joint or single) and d) maintenance fee after divorce.
- cheque bounce- a notice can be sent to the issuer of the cheque in the event of a cheque bounce.
Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908
The procedure of sending a legal notice to another individual or institution is common in civil cases as seen in the above section. However, if one wants to initiate a civil suit against the State then they have to serve a legal notice before any such suit can be filed. Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 provides the requisite steps to file a suit against the government or a public officer acting on behalf of the government. The legal notice is important so that the government has time to evaluate the situation and compensate the plaintiff before the matter reaches the court. It is mandatory to send a legal notice if the civil suit is directed against the government or any public officer appointed by the government.
Sending Legal Notice Without a Lawyer
It is not mandatory to draft a legal notice through a lawyer. However, drafting a legal notice requires the careful articulation of words and clarity in legal concepts to properly communicate the plaintiff's grievances to the other party. Once the plaintiff sends the legal notice, they cannot revert their statement or make any statement contradictory to the legal notice in any way. Therefore, one should always consult a lawyer to ensure there is no error in the document.
The Procedure for Sending a Legal Notice
Contacting a Lawyer
Ideally, the first step is to reach out to a lawyer with good drafting skills who can create a proper communication channel with the other party. The legal notice can be written in any Indian language but English is usually the primary choice of most clients. The notice has to clearly mention the person/party of interest to address the plaintiff's grievances.
Then the plaintiff has to carefully explain all the details to the lawyer. These details should include:
- the addresses;
- the various parties involved;
- the dates when the said commitment was made and broken;
- any other challenges that the plaintiff has faced;
- alternatives/demands that the other party has to fulfill within the stipulated time;
- mention of any other attempt at initiating dialogue if there was any.
Research and Drafting the Notice
The concerned lawyer then goes through the given information and asks for additional information if the research requires more attention to the case.
The lawyer then uses the required legal language to draft the notice; mentioning the reason for sending a legal notice and the previous attempts made by the plaintiff to resolve the issue. He/she gives the other party a stipulated amount of time to respond to the notice. The lawyer can give 15 days to 60 days for an adequate reply depending on the urgency of the client and the particulars of the case. The lawyer usually stresses on taking an action to settle the dispute without having to go to the court.
Sending the Notice
After the notice is written and finalized, it is signed by the lawyer as well as the client. In most cases, the lawyer retains a copy of the legal notice for the purposes of recording communication and avoiding any tampering in the future. The lawyer then sends the legal notice either through registered post or via courier.
Normally, lawyers have to wait for the other party to reply before filing the case in the court. However, some lawyers might also call the other party after some time to request a counseling session for better negotiations.
A legal notice is an important instrument of the law to keep both parties informed and open a channel for mediation. It gives the other party an opportunity to settle any dispute with the complainant and avoid a suit against them.