This article is written by Pearl Narang, from Chandigarh University, Mohali and Rahul Mahajan, pursuing Executive Certificate Course in Introduction to Legal Drafting from LawSikho. In this article, she has discussed and covered various important aspects related to Legal Notice Format.
All forms of formal communication have a pre-planned arrangement which every person who indulges in it, has to follow. This pre-planned arrangement is known as a format. Legal Notice is one such type of formal communication which has its own format which details how and what information needs to be provided in the notice.
It is necessary for a person to stick to the format of legal notice while drafting it. A well-drafted legal notice helps a person to avail the quickest remedy. It makes the recipient agree to the terms of the party who is sending the notice and thus eliminates the need to take the matter to court.
Legal notice meaning
A legal notice is a formal written communication between the parties. Through a legal notice, the sender notifies the recipient about his intention of undertaking legal proceedings against the latter. A legal notice also helps in making the receiving party aware of the grievances of the sender.
It works as a last warning to the receiver to fulfil a certain condition if he does not want a court battle.
It is used in a wide variety of situations:
- In Consumer Forums: In case, a faulty product or service is provided to a person he or she can send a legal notice to the concerned person and ask him to rectify the deficiencies.
- Disputes related to property such as partition, eviction or issues relating to possession of the property.
- Loan Defaulters: Under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act), the debt recovery proceedings begin by sending a legal notice to the defaulters.
- Cases under the Negotiable Instruments Act: In case of dishonour of cheque, the aggrieved can send a legal notice for recovery of payment.
- Money Recovery Cases: The first step in money recovery cases is sending a legal notice to the concerned person.
- Employee and Employer/Company: If the employer in any way deprives the employees of their salary, then the employee can send a legal notice to the employer.
It is a tool to save time and cost of litigation as it opens the door for the parties to settle the matter through negotiation, mediation or arbitration.
Pre-legal notice meaning
Pre-legal notice means ‘before being legal’, this notice is sent to the parties before sending them the legal notice. It is a kind of personal communication between parties. While a legal notice warns of a litigation, a pre-legal notice acts as a warning before legal notice.
Content of legal notice
The aggrieved person/ group of persons can draft the notice on their own but it is a wise option to get it drafted by an experienced Legal practitioner. A well-drafted Legal Notice is made on the letter-head of the Advocate having his address and contact details and must also contain the following information-
Example: A person ‘X’ took goods on credit from ‘Y’ on 4th May 2020, during the ordinary course of business on the pretext of paying for it after 3 months. Now, if ‘X’ fails to make the payment for the goods after expiry of 3 months, ‘Y’ can send a Legal Notice for recovery of money.
Following things will form the content of Legal Notice:
The title of legal notice
The title must be short, and informative, which can give a glimpse of the matter which is discussed in the notice, moreover, the perfect address should be mentioned so that the notice reaches the correct destination and to the correct person.
In the above example, the title of the notice can be:
“Notice for the recovery of money on account of credit sale of goods.”
Matter and facts
This part mentions the cause of the concerned notice. The acts which have intentionally or unintentionally created a problem for the sender should be precisely stated. If there are any previous communications related to the matter that must also be referred. No vital information related to the matter should be left out.
In the above example, the body of notice will look like:
- That you bought goods on credit from my client on May 1, 2020.
- That you promised to make the payment to my client within 3 months.
- That you failed to pay the amount till August 1, 2020.
Sender’s demand and requirements
The demand of the sender of the notice needs to be carefully drafted and mentioned in the notice. The sender can either ask for specific performance or monetary compensation for the grievance and mental harassment that he had to suffer due to the conduct of the other person.
In the above example, the demand clause will look like:
“I, therefore, through this Legal Notice call upon you, on my client’s behalf, to make the payment of Rs.____/- in favour of my client, within ___ days from the date of receipt of this Legal Notice along with interest of Rs.___/-.”
Result and consequences
The result of not complying with the conditions of the Legal Notice is to be mentioned in the notice itself. The consequences will act as intimidation for the addressee to take necessary action in the stipulated time. The addressee should be given a reasonable time, say 20 or 30 days to settle the matter by either negotiation or otherwise.
In the above example, the result clause will look like:
“In the event of failing to do so, my client has given me the clear instructions to file a Suit for Recovery along with Civil and Criminal suits in the competent court and in such event you will be fully responsible for all the expenses, costs, risks, and consequences thereof.”
Sending a Legal Notice through an advocate ensures that the Legal Notice looks crisp, concise, and impactful at the same time. If notice is routed through an advocate it has its own added advantages apart from the advantages mentioned hereunder.
Types Of legal notice
Tenant eviction notice
In India, the rights of tenants are given in Rent Control Act,1948. When land is leased to a tenant, a Rent Agreement is signed between the tenant and the landlord.
Even though, tenants are provided with rights which protects them against forced or unlawful eviction, there are certain grounds on which the landlord can file an eviction suit. Before filing an eviction suit, first the landlord has to send a legal notice to the tenant.
The legal notice will contain:
- The number of days within which the tenant has to vacate the property, and
- The time and date on which the property should be vacated, and
- The reason for eviction.
Sample Tenant Eviction Notice:
ADVOCATE OFFICE Address_________
Contact No.: ______________ Email:_________________
Ref. No._____ Dated:___________
To, (Name and Address of the Recipient.)
______ Son of _____
Resident of ______________
Having instructions from and on behalf of my client _____ son of _____R/o _____, I do hereby serve you with the following legal notice:
- That my client is the owner of _____.
- That my client let out the shop, SCO No.________, measuring ______sq.metres to you in the month of _____, _____on a monthly rent of _____/- per month plus _____/- per month as maintenance charges.
- You and my client entered into Rent Agreement on _____ for the period of _____ months.
- That it was also settled between you and my client that in case you fail to pay the monthly rent consecutively for a period of two months to my client, then my client shall be entitled to get the rented premises vacated immediately and you would handover the actual physical possession of the rented premises to my client.(Statement of facts.)
- That you have paid the rent of the rented premises to my client upto the _____ and thereafter you have not made any payment till date. (Cause of action.)
- That my client demanded the rent due to him _____/- per month for the months of _____ amounting to _____/.
- That as per the terms and conditions of the Rent Agreement, the said Rent Agreement was executed for the period of only _____ months i.e. upto _____ and the period of tenancy has already been completed, therefore, the Rent Agreement dated _____ has expired. Now my client is not interested in continuing with the tenancy and wants you to vacate the said premises.(Reason for eviction).
I, therefore, through this legal notice call upon you to pay the due amount of rent _____/- along maintenance charges and interest and vacate the premises of my client immediately, within _____ days from the date of receipt of this legal notice. (Relief demanded by the Plaintiff).
In case you fail to do so, then my client has given me clear instructions to file legal proceedings against you in the competent court of law under the provisions of the Indian Contract Act and other applicable laws. In that event you shall be fully responsible for all costs, risks and responsibilities. (Legal basis).
A copy of this legal notice is retained in my office for record and further necessary action.
Employee and employer/company
Employees are seldom aware of their rights, this is one the main cause of their exploitation by their employers.
Delayed or non-payment of salary, wrongful termination etc. are some of the problems faced by the employees.
In case of delayed or non-payment of salary, the employee can send a legal notice to his employer and claim the money due to him for the services rendered.
Sample legal notice to the employer for non-payment of salary:
To, (Name and Address of the Recipient) Dated:
Through its Managing Director
Under instruction and on behalf of my client Mr. A, S/o______,R/o_______ I do hereby serve you with the following notice:
- That my client was appointed by your offer letter dated 21st September 2018 and the salary of my client was fixed at Rs. 56000 /- per month.(Statement of facts.)
- You issued the offer letter in the name of my client and also gave him an Identity card.
- That my client did his duty regularly and with utmost punctuality.
- That on 4th January, 2019 when my client went to do his duty then your office abruptly refused to allow my client to do his duty.You told my client his services are no longer required. Thus you terminated the services of my client without any reasonable cause. At the time of termination of the services of my client, you did not pay the salary for the month of November and 15 days salary for the month of December which comes to Rs. 33,500/-.
- That my client visited your office from time to time and spent a huge amount of Rs. 2500/- on the charges of traveling but you refused to pay. Lastly on 2nd February, 2019 you clearly refused to pay the salary of Rs.33,500/- to my client along with traveling charges. You also did not pay amount of bonus and other service benefits which amounts to Rs. 28000/-. (Cause of action.)
I, therefore, call upon you through this Notice, to make the payment of the Rs. 90,000/- to my clients along with interest up to date, within 15 days.(Relief claimed and a time period provided.)
In case you fail to do so, my client has given clear instructions to me to file criminal as well as Civil Suit and Suit for Recovery in the competent court of law and in that event you will be fully responsible for all costs, risks, responsibilities, expenses and consequences thereof. (Legal basis.)
A copy of this Notice is kept in my office for record and further necessary action and you are also advised to keep the copy safe as you would be asked to produce in court.
Cheque bounce notice
In case of dishonor of cheques, a legal notice is filed under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.
Sample legal notice in case of dishonour of cheque:
Mr. X, (The Name and Address of the Recipient.)
Under the instruction and authority from my client Mr. ABC (hereinafter referred to as my ‘client’), I do hereby serve upon you the following notice under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act, 1881:
- That my client and you know each other for the last 2 years and on that account you demanded a friendly loan of Rs.6,00,000 from my client in the month of June. My client loaned you the said amount.
- That earlier, you issued a cheque dated 27th July, 2019 for Rs.6,00,000 drawn on _______, in order to discharge your liability.
- That when the cheque was presented for encashment by my client the same was returned unpaid by the banker with the reason of “Insufficient Funds”. My client informed you about it through telephone.(Statement of facts)
- That despite various reminders, you failed to pay the due amount to my client. You tried to avoid the matter.This is why my client is left with no other option but to present you with legal notice.(Cause of action)
- That you have failed to comply with the provisions of the law and also failed to discharge your liability from your account and the same cheque was dishonoured intentionally and willfully.
- That, either you discharge your liability towards my client in the next 15 days or criminal and civil charges will be framed against you, and you can be punished for imprisonment which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to twice the amount of the cheque, or with both. (Relief claimed and legal basis)
When a person is provided with deficient goods or services, he as a consumer, can file a legal notice against the concerned person. In the legal notice, the consumer can give a reasonable time, for instance,15 days to rectify the deficiencies in the product.
Sample legal notice in case of consumer disputes:
Address: (Address of the seller.)
Subject: Notice against defective goods sold by you.
- That the undersigned is a consumer as defined under Consumer Protection Act,1986.
- That we have purchased goods from you, receipt dated ________by paying an amount of Rs.___________. (Statement of Facts.)
- That the said product due to the following defects: (Description of the Defects.)
- That the above said act on your part has caused us great loss and inconvenience and loss of value of money.
- That, you are hereby asked to replace the said good or provide us a refund immediately within one week of receipt of this notice. (Relief claimed by the Plaintiff.)
- In case you fail to do so,the undersigned shall be free to initiate legal proceedings against your act of unfair trade practice and deficiency of services under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and shall seek the refund of the amount already paid to you with interest and damages for which you shall be liable. (Legal Basis)
This notice may be treated as the last and final communication on the issue.
Section 80 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908
A legal notice is filed only in civil cases. In criminal cases, it is the government which brings action against the wrongdoer. However, when a suit is filed against the government or a public officer giving a legal notice is mandatory under Section 80 of Civil Procedure Code.
Section 80 of the code details two things.
- Who should be served with the notice?
- What should the notice contain?
Who should be served with the notice?
It is stated in the section that,
- If the suit is filed against the Central Government or State Government, then the secretary to that government or collector of the district should be served with the notice;
- If the suit is filed against railway, then the General Manager will be served with the notice;
- If the suit is filed against Government of Jammu and Kashmir, the Chief Secretary to the government or any other authorized person will be served with the notice;
- If the suit is to be filed against a public officer, then the notice should be delivered to him or left at his office.
The Government or the officer who is served with the notice are provided with a timeframe of 2 months to resolve the issue. In case they fail to do so, a formal legal proceeding can be initiated against them.
This mandatory requirement is made to discourage frivolous lawsuits against the government.
What should the notice contain?
Section 80 also states what essential information must be there in the notice. This information includes,
- The Name, Description, Residence of the person sending the notice;
- The cause of action for filing the notice;
- The relief/compensation claimed by the plaintiff.
Filing a legal notice
A legal notice can be filed and drafted by the person himself or he can avail the services of a lawyer.
If a person avails services of a lawyer for drafting the notice, then the notice should be typed on the lawyer’s letterhead.
A legal notice should contain all the material facts of the case. It should have the recipient’s name and address. The legal notice can be sent by the person himself or his lawyer.
In the legal notice, the cause of action for filing the suit must be mentioned. It should also state all previous communications regarding the cause of action.
The aggrieved party should give a reasonable time to the recipient to settle the matter. The matter can be resolved by:
- Addressing the grievances of the aggrieved party, or
- Negotiating on the matter, or
- Performance of the desired action by recipient.
The notice is sent through Registered Advocate’s post. A copy of the notice is kept by the sender or by his lawyer.
Small yet significant pointer to be kept in mind
- The whole process of sending a Legal Notice through Registered Post/ Courier can take around 5-7 working days.
- English is the generally accepted language of sending a Legal Notice in India.
- No documents or annexures are required to be sent along with the Legal Notice to the other party.
- It is not mandatory to reply to a Legal Notice, but it is always advisable to reply appropriately after consulting with an advocate. His writing skills and use of legal language can create an impact on the receiver.
- The Supreme Court of India has recognized the Legal Notices sent through WhatsApp, Telegram, E-mail, or Fax. The two blue ticks on WhatsApp signify the receipt of the notice. The Bombay High Court, in the matter of SBI Cards (P) Ltd. Vs. Rohit Jadhav, observed that if a person received a Legal Notice on WhatsApp and he has opened it; it will be deemed that the Legal Notice is served upon him.
- If the sender is aware of the recipient’s alternative address, it must also be mentioned on the notice to ensure that the notice reaches him.
- There is no set format of a Legal Notice. It depends on the drafting skills and command on the laws and language of the advocate.
- Where the notice is sent pursuant to a breach of a contract, it should be sent to the address mentioned under the ‘Notices’ clause of the contract.
- The mode of dispatch (electronic or physical) must also be compliant with the provisions of the contract between the parties.
- The advocate’s fee to draft a Legal Notice can be as low as Rs. 1000 and can even run into several lakhs depending upon the complexity involved in the matter.
Importance of filing a legal notice
These days, courts are overburdened with cases. Because of this nowadays, litigation is the last resort for anyone who wants to have a quick solution to his problem.
A formal legal proceeding is a very slow and costly process. This is why before filing a suit, one should always file a legal notice. It is important to file a legal notice because of the following reasons:
- Through a legal notice, the plaintiff can convey his grievances to the recipient in a detailed manner.
- The receiver of the notice can address those grievances to save himself from a formal legal proceeding.
- The matter can be settled outside the court without getting into the hassle of litigation.
- Legal notice gives an opportunity to parties to settle their dispute through Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms.
Example of legal notice
Example of format of a legal notice:
ADVOCATE NAME OFFICE ADDRESS:___________
Ref. No.________ Dated: ___________
1- _______________ (Name and Address of the Recipient.)
SUBJECT: LEGAL NOTICE UNDER SECTION ____OF _____ ACT, _____. (Legal Basis)
Under the instructions and on behalf of my client Mr./Ms. _______ S/o _______, resident of _______, I do hereby serve you with the following notice under section ___ of the _______ Act.
1- That my client ______________. (Statement of Facts)
2- That since ______________.
3- That on ______________.
4- That my client wants you to ______________.(Relief Demanded by the Plaintiff.)
I therefore call upon you through this notice ______________.
A copy of this legal notice is retained in my office for further necessary action.
Sample legal notices on various subject matters are given here.
What to do when you receive a legal notice – replying to legal notice
The following things are to be kept in mind once a notice is received by any person:
- Carefully reading the notice: It is very important to read the contents of the Legal Notice properly to understand the issue and concerns raised by the sender. If one feels that there is scope for settling the dispute amicably, then the conversation can be initiated.
- Contacting an Advocate: It is always advisable to approach a good advocate who can take the matter ahead.
- Briefing the Advocate: The next important step is to present your side of the story to him, providing information about the time, facts, and events related to the matter so that he can draft an appropriate reply presenting your side to the sender.
- Sending the reply: Once a reply of the Notice has been drafted it is sent through a registered post or courier and the receipt of the post is kept. A copy of the Legal Notice and the reply is kept by the advocate for future correspondences.
A legal notice is an important way of communication between the parties. A well drafted legal notice can make the parties resolve their disputes without indulging in the hassle of a formal legal proceeding and thus can save time and costs.
Students of Lawsikho courses regularly produce writing assignments and work on practical exercises as a part of their coursework and develop themselves in real-life practical skill.