A legal notice is a written communication that the affected party sends to the opposing party, informing them of the legal action they plan to take against them. This is done when the affected party has suffered a civil grievance and is seeking compensation or legal remedy. The legal notice is a formal and procedural requirement that must be fulfilled before filing a case in a court of law as per the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.
The notice must contain all the facts and complaints of the aggrieved party, along with the legal remedy they seek. The sender of the notice is called the Sender, and the person to whom it is addressed is called the Addressee. It can be served by the Sender himself or through his appointed advocate under his letterhead.
The purpose of the legal notice is to give the defendant notice of the aggrieved party's intention to take legal action against them and provide them with a chance to resolve the matter amicably. The defendant is given a specific time frame within which they must respond to the notice, indicating whether they agree or disagree with the facts stated in it.
If the defendant fails to respond to the legal notice, it works in favor of the aggrieved party. The legal notice is an essential step in initiating legal proceedings against the opposing party, and it is advisable to seek the guidance of a legal professional to ensure that it is drafted correctly and contains all the necessary information.
Importance of Legal Notice
- Formal Communication: When a legal notice is sent to an individual, they are given a clear indication of the sender's intentions and their intent to file a lawsuit to resolve an issue. It is a type of formal communication that helps the opposing party to respond and avoid a legal suit.
- Procedural Requirements: A legal notice is an important document that is included in the process of legal actions taken by the sender and other legal procedures.
- Negotiation and Settlement: Legal Notices mention all the details of the case. It also opens up the possibility for negotiations and settlements. The notice also clarifies that the issue can be sorted out cordially if the opposing party agrees to it in the given time frame.
- Evidence in Court: Legal Notices can be served as evidence. It is a written record that can be further used with court documents and can be mentioned during litigation.
Types of Legal Notices
In India, there are 4 types of legal notices in practice. Let’s take a look at what these 4 types of notices are and how it is drafted.
A public notice is addressed to the public about specific legal proceedings. The public comes across this type of notice very frequently. Public feedback is expected when such notices are circulated. News related to social gatherings and events is also conveyed through public notice. The media plays a very important role in distributing these notices to their audience. For example, if Your area’s municipal corporation is going to temporarily cease water supply for a day for maintenance purposes, they will issue a public notice to newspapers.
This type of notice can be drafted by organizations and individuals. To understand this, let’s take an example of a social worker who will be rewarded for his exceptional work for the community. The government will draft an actual notice to inform them that they will be felicitated for their social work. These notices find their application in judicial proceedings, hence, the scope of this notice format is limited.
A constructive notice is issued to inform employees about organization policies. The notice is a type of legal announcement issued to an organization holding it responsible for action along with the members as well.
Implied notice refers to a notice that is not explicitly given or communicated in writing, but is instead inferred from the circumstances or actions of the parties involved. It means that the recipient of the notice is deemed to have knowledge of the notice, even if it was not directly communicated to them.
Legal Requirements for a Legal Notice
Traditionally, legal notices were served through registered posts only, but in present times, it is more convenient for people to send legal notices online. Now, given a choice, people prefer to send legal Notices online in India; however, the effect for both is more or less the same.
Mode of Delivery
Hand to Hand Delivery, Courier, Registered Post, Speed Post, WhatsApp, Email
Time Limit for sending the Notice
The usual time frame given to the Addressee ranges from 30 to 60 days.
Format and content of the notice
If you are planning to draft a legal notice, these are the following essential ingredients that are required to be present in a legal notice:-
- Name and address of the Sender
- Cause of Action
- Facts and Contentions of the Sender
- The relief claimed by the Sender
- Legal contentions and charges
- Stamp and Signature of the advocate sending the Notice
When can a Legal Notice be sent?
Any individual or body of individuals or company can send a legal notice to another individual or body of individuals or company where any civil injury has been caused to them.
Some of the common cases where people issue legal notices are:-
- Breach of contract: Citizens of India can issue a legal notice in case of breach of contract in corporate or public sectors.
- Defamation Cases: Legal notices are issued for defamation cases as the first step to initiating civil proceedings. It is issued in situations like loss or damage to reputation, compensations, etc.
- Consumer Complaint Issues: Notices in such cases are filed about complaining about faculty products, services, or any advertisement which is not true or misleading to the public.
- Property-related disputes: Notices are issued for disputes such as partition, eviction, or possession.
- Employment-related issues: Legal notices are issued to employees & employers for issues like wrongful termination, sexual harassment cases, non-payment of salary, violation of company policies, infringement of company terms & conditions, etc.
- Loan Defaulters cases under Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) and Debt recovery.
- Dishonor of cheque: Notices can be sent to the issuer of the cheque when their cheque bounces. Under Section 138 of The Negotiable Instruments Act, legal action can be taken against the cheque issuer.
- Primarily, legal Notice acts as a warning to the Addressee to avoid a court battle. Legal Notice acts as a time and money saver by avoiding court litigation and resolving the matter by way of negotiation, mediation, or arbitration.
Procedure to send a Legal Notice in India
Sending a legal notice has become relatively easy for a layperson as many samples are available on various websites. However, it is still recommended to avail of the services of a professional. One can also opt for legal advice online to serve a legal notice. A lawyer's Notice would create a strong impression on the opposite party, and all the legal angles and provisions will be taken care of. Sending a well-drafted notice is like winning the half-court battle.
- Consult with a lawyer: The Sender can approach a Lawyer and discuss their case with them.
- Draft the notice: Post discussion, the drafting of the legal Notice is initiated, which contains all the material facts of the case, cause of action, grievances of the Sender, and other relevant information.
- Serve the notice: After the legal notice is prepared, it should always be sent on the letterhead of the lawyer through a registered post or online.
- Await Response: After sending the Notice, the defendant is given a reasonable time to reply to a legal notice.
Is it mandatory to send a legal notice before filing a lawsuit in India?
Legal Notices are mandatory only in civil cases. It must be fulfilled before filing a case in a court of law as per the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.
What is the time limit for responding to a legal notice in India?
The usual time frame given to the Addressee ranges from 30 to 60 days.
What happens if the recipient of a legal notice does not respond?
If the Addressee doesn’t respond to the legal notice in the given time frame, the sender can file a case against you in court. This will lead to legal proceedings in court against you.
Can a legal notice be sent via email?
A legal notice sent via email is valid. However, it is suggested to send a hard copy of the legal notice to the Addressee via registered post or courier as well.
Can a legal notice be sent to a company's registered office instead of a person's address?
Yes, the legal notice can be sent to the company’s address where the person is working.
How can proof of service be obtained for a legal notice sent by registered post or courier?
When a legal notice is sent to the registered address of the addressee, the addressee can acknowledge the receipt of the notice and will return it to the sender. This becomes a document of proof for the sender.
What are the consequences of not responding to a legal notice in India?
When the Addressee ignores legal notice two times, the sender initiates legal action. The Court may take adverse implications against the Addressee. Ignorance of legal notice is not an offense under the law but it can have serious legal consequences.