All you need to know about a legal notice: Part 2

A legal notice is a key first step in enforcing or defending your rights and a precursor to litigation. This article offers an exhaustive technical breakdown of a legal notice with templates of a legal notice and reply notice.

The first part of this article dealt with the purpose, structure, language and drafting guidelines for legal notices. Click here to read more. In this second part of the article, we discuss the outcomes, reply, economics and drafting of legal notices through templates.

What are the outcomes of a legal notice?

Let’s understand this situation with an example –

Mr. A sends a legal notice to Mr. B asking him stop infringing his trademark. What does Mr. B do?

  1. Compliance – He agrees to change his trademark.
  2. Settlement – He negotiates with Mr. A and they mutually agree that Mr. B can use his trademark, but by inserting a disclosure below that both their businesses are different from one another.
  3. Indifference – He is confident that his trademark is sufficiently different from Mr. A’s and ignores the notice. However, should the matter go to the court, not responding to a legal notice raises suspicion in the eyes of the judge.
  4. Counterclaim – He may send a reply notice or file a suit of infringement himself claiming that he is the original owner of the trademark and that Mr. A is the infringer.
  5. Litigation/Arbitration/Mediation – Both the parties disagree on the key points and either party moves to be decided by a judicial body.

An option that is correct for one situation may be a wrong for a different situation. Therefore, it is always advised to consult a legal professional when one receives a legal notice so they can send a fitting reply notice.

What constitutes a reply notice?

The language, tone, tenor, method of sending and tips to draft a reply notice are similar to that of a legal notice. The only change is in the structure which is thus –

1. Facts

Similar to the rules laid down for a legal notice, the facts should be correct and verifiable.

2. Denials

If the intention behind a reply notice is to refute the claims made in legal notice then, denials are vital and should be done properly. It is advised that a general denial statement be inserted first that reads “all claims made in the legal notice are denied in toto”. Further, specific denials should be made para-wise or to each new point raised in the legal notice, the former being a widely followed practice.

While replying to the notice it must address the advocate who is sending the notice and not the sender directly (unless the other party is directly sending the notice).

A denial can either be plain or choose to insert a supporting fact or a counterclaim. E.g. If a legal notice states that some payments were not made regularly as per the contract. The receiver may include a simple denial“It is denied that the payments were made irregularly”or he may add a sentence in his support such as “As per the contract, only 7 payments were compulsory, all of which were made on time”or“We state that seeking any further payment, which is not specifically agreed in the contract, is tantamount to extortion” or make a counter claim“on the other hand, it is your client who owes my client a sum of Rs. X as per agreement dated X.”

3. Conclusion

The receiver should conclude by stating how the grounds on which the legal notice stood are not applicable to him and hence the reliefs sought are not tenable. E.g. In continuation of our previous scenario the notice can end with “It is clear that I have met my monetary obligations laid down in the contract, hence there is no requirement for any further payment.”

Is it worth spending money on a legal notice?

If you wish to protect your legal rights, then it is pertinent that a legal notice is sent or replied to. Legal notices are often precursors to litigation – the contents of the notice will hint at the stand that the person will take at litigation. Further, the core contents of the legal notice and a plaint/written statement do not largely vary from each other.

A legal notice can often escalate a matter immediately to litigation or help reach a settlement between parties, depending on how it is drafted. These nuanced approaches can only be provided by a legal professional and hence, a well drafted legal notice can save its sender exorbitant litigation costs in the future.

If the matter were to move to litigation, any admissions, contradictions made in the legal notice may affect the outcome of the matter. Hence, a legal notice is a very important legal document which should be carefully drafted.

Legal notice and reply to legal notice templates

Here’s a premise for our notices –

A company enters into a contract with a consultant Mr. A for creating a website. As per the contract, Mr. A has to complete the work within 2 months failing which he has to give back the advance paid and compensate the company to pay another contractor. However, the contract also stated that if the delay was due to the company or any unforeseen circumstances, the contractor cannot be held liable and he will be compensated by the company for his extra time.

There has been a delay of 20 days and the company is sending out a legal notice to Mr. A to terminate the contract which reads thus –

Click here for a Reply Notice’s template.

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