This article on ‘How to respond to a legal notice in India?‘ was written by Ananya Bansode, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
The process of receiving legal notices is frequently depicted in television programmes and movies, but what are legal notices exactly, and how do you respond to a Legal Notice in India? This entire topic will be covered in this article.
What is a legal notice?
A legal notice is a form of exchange of information between parties in which the sender informs the recipient of his intention to file legal action against the other. It is interpreted as a notice to the recipient to fulfil a particular condition if he does not wish to take the matter to court. It aids in informing the recipient party of the sender’s grievances.
It is a cost-effective and time tool for resolving disputes without resorting to litigation but rather through the processes of mediation, negotiation, or arbitration. Typically, in civil cases, a legal notice is filed. If someone wants to file a civil lawsuit against the government, they must first serve legal notice on the government, and only then can they actually file the lawsuit.
The primary intent of a legal notice is to notify the other party that the party that sent the notice may take legal action if the specified debt, liability, or obligation is not met within the specified time limit. Legal notice enables the party who has been wronged to outline their complaint to the court with the assistance of a qualified attorney in order to make sure that the consequences of the receiver’s failure to adhere to the terms and conditions as discussed previously are understood. It may also serve as the last chance for the accused before court proceedings begin.
Serving legal notice gives the other party a chance to respond and aids in settling the dispute without resorting to litigation, which could be costly and time-consuming for both parties. The legal notice must be well-written in order to be effective. Employing legal counsel to draught the notice would serve as an intermediary between both parties and aid in resolving the dispute outside of court.
Therefore, a legal notice is a formal message sent to a person or a legal entity informing them that legal action will be taken against them.
How to respond to a legal notice?
A legal notice should be responded to within the time frame specified. Failure to do so may be advantageous to the addressee. Although it is not required to respond to a legal notice, it is recommended that you do so. The other party may take advantage of your failure to respond to a legal notice by blaming you for not following the notice’s requirements when drafting the petition, which is why the case has been filed. The following details must be remembered after receiving the notice:
- Having read the legal notice thoroughly– It is important that the legal notice be thoroughly read by the receiver to comprehend the problem and concerns expressed by the other party. Upon receiving legal communication, a person may become anxious. Panic or haste is never appropriate states in which to formulate an appropriate response to such a circumstance. Therefore, it is imperative that you give yourself plenty of time to consider the claims being made in the legal notice and to go over the contracts and agreements that are a part of it.
- Hiring a lawyer– A knowledgeable attorney must be contacted to pursue legal action if the legal notice’s provisions are unclear. The best course of action is to draught a respond to the legal notice and then ask an attorney to review it for you, looking at it from a legal standpoint, keeping in mind various factors, including the financial limitations of businesses, companies, and entities. Even if the content of the response remains essentially the same, an expert attorney can significantly alter the tone of the response, the choice of words/expressions, and admissions made to establish a complete and strong response. Furthermore, if you are uncertain of your legal backing on the matter, it is always advisable to consult a lawyer to strategize a suitable legal response.
- Informing the lawyer– It is necessary that the entire matter be briefed to the appointed lawyer. In order to properly write a response representing the receiver’s side of an argument, the lawyer needs to be given all the relevant and important information about the location, date, events, and relevant facts. If, to your knowledge, the facts set forth in a legal notice are factually inaccurate and you need to contest the notice, enlist the help of the designated attorney and draught a suitable response to the notice disputing its contents. The notice must be delivered by registered mail or courier.
- Description of the response– The response must be planned in order to be either broad or specific, depending on the context and content of the notice or communication that has been received. The purpose of the same is to protect the receiver of the legal notice from making any claims that might harm the position of the receiver in the current legal situation. It is wise to take a counteraction before responding and mention it in the reply if the legal notice is an allegation of infringement. The one thing that must be kept in mind is that every communication with the other party contributes to the strength of the legal case. As a result, it is crucial to be precise with every element included in the response because it could be used as evidence in a court case. In light of this, it is advisable to exercise caution when it comes to any admissions or statements made in relation to the claims being made in the notice.
- Sending the response– Confirm if the assertion is time-barred before sending the response to the notice. If the claim is time-barred, you merely need to respond that the claim is out of time. Once the lawyer has drafted the response notice on your behalf, it is transmitted through registered mail or courier. The copy of the response notice is kept by the lawyer for future reference.
Sample respond to a legal notice
Notice by Vendor to complete the purchase of immovable property
Re: Sale of House No. _______ situated at ____________________.
Under instructions of my client Shri ____________ s/o _______________ r/o ________________.
It is stated as follows:
My client had entered into an agreement for sale dated ___________ with you for sale of house No. ________________, situated at _____________. for a consideration of Rs. _______ and in terms of clause ___________ of the said Agreement, the said transaction is to be completed within _____ months from the date of the said agreement.
My client was and is still willing and ready to execute a sale deed in your favor or in favor of any person as you may direct in accordance with the terms of the said agreement, but the same was not done for reasons of your own.
I hereby call upon you to have the deed of conveyance executed by my client against payment of the balance of the consideration money on or before the ______ day of ____________ in terms of the said agreement, failing which the said agreement will stand cancelled and the earnest money paid by you will stand forfeited.
However, this is without prejudice to the rights of my client to recover all costs, damages, losses, and expenses incurred by him by reason of your default in performing the said agreement.
The respond to legal notices being non-mandatory in nature leads to people, at times, neglecting them and hence facing trouble when things end up in court. It may not be important to respond to a legal notice, but not responding will surely have a negative impact when in court. Therefore, it is always preferable to respond to a legal notice with the assistance of a lawyer.
Getting a legal notice is very common now as there are so many contracts that people enter into on a daily basis. It is, however, important to go through the legal notice and draft a response that is best suited for oneself. A fast response should be provided, and efforts should be made to settle the situation through arbitration, negotiation, or mediation instead of dragging the matter to court, which would involve significantly more work, time, and money.
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- What is legal notice and what is its importance in check bouncing cases? available at: https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-5217-what-is-legal-notice-and-what-is-its-importance-in-check-bouncing-cases-.html (Last visited on 13th July 2022)
- General Advisory Vis-A-Vis Responding To Legal Notices/Communications, available at: https://iiprd.wordpress.com/2020/04/17/general-advisory-vis-a-vis-responding-to-legal-notices-communications/?utm_source=Mondaq&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=LinkedIn-integration (Last visited on 13th July 2022)