Legal notice: all you need to know

What is legal notice?

Any person or firm can be taken into court, only after a legal notice is served against them. This is the only way by which a matter can be brought to the court. The information sent is known as a legal notice.  Therefore, a formal letter which communicates the intention of one person to take legal proceedings against any individual, entity is called as a legal notice. This notice makes the other party aware of the grievance before the commencement of any legal proceedings against him. In most of the cases, the parties need not go to the court and the issues get resolved out of the court by discussions done by the parties. However, as the law stated, one always has a right to start the court proceedings if the opponent party is not heeding to the grievance. Further, the main purpose of serving a legal notice is to save time, effort and money by coming to a conclusion amongst oneself and avoid court case.[1]

Importance of filing a Legal Notice

There are certain aspects that have to be kept in mind while initiating a legal action in order to resolve the matter:

  1. Legal notice gives a clear notice on the part of the sender to initiate legal proceedings against the other party, with an intention to resolve the issue. In most cases, the other party responds to such notice immediately in order to avoid court proceedings.
  2. With the help of an advocate, it is easy to describe a person’s grievance in a legal notice.
  3. The receiver of the legal notice has an option to resolve the issues cordially, once a legal notice is served to him.
  4. The legal notice acts as a reminder for the receiver for the acts that created problems for the sender either intentionally or unintentionally.[2]

Things to be mentioned in the legal notice

  1. Name of the parties-The name and address of the party to whom the notice is being sent needs to be mentioned in the legal notice.
  2. Facts and grievance caused- The facts and grievance of sender has to be mentioned in points and paragraphs in the legal notice.
  3. Compensation- In some cases, a certain amount of compensation is claimed by the sender of the legal notice. There may be other methods of addressing disputes other than compensation. However, it is necessary to mention the laws under which the sender of the notice claims the compensation.
  4. Signature- lastly, a signature and stamps needs to be affixed by the lawyer who is sending the legal notice on behalf of his client.

Under Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure, a legal notice is sent. However, a legal notice can only be sent in civil cases and not in criminal cases.[3]

When to send a Legal Notice?

The most common reasons for which a person or entity can send a legal notice are:

  1. Property related disputes such as delayed possession delivery by the builder, mortgage, the partition of family property, eviction of the tenant etc.
  2. Any violation in the employers right such as wrongful termination, unpaid salary etc.
  3. Any violation in HR policies gives notice to the employee such as, leaving the job without handing over the resignation letter, violation of any provision of the employment agreement, sexual harassment act at the workplace etc.
  4. Notice to a company in case of false advertisement, faulty products, faulty services etc.
  5. Notice to the issuer of the cheque, in case the cheque bounce.
  6. Conflicts on a personal level such as divorce, child custody, maintenance can also lead to legal notice.[4]

Legal Notice under Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

A legal notice is not filed against a person in case of a criminal matter and it is filed only in civil cases. In criminal case, state government takes the action against the person who has committed an offence as the supreme power lies with the state in that case. If a person wants to file a civil suit against the government, he needs to serve a notice beforehand in order to initiate any legal proceeding against the government. Under Section 80 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, a person can send a legal notice to the public officer or government. This notice is to be sent during the course of the official’s duty until the expiration of two months. Serving of legal notice, provides the secretary of state or the public officer to amend his legal position and avoid any court proceedings by offering some kind of compensation.

In Bihari Chowdhary v. State of Bihar[5], it was stated by supreme court “The object of the section is the advancement of justice and the securing of public good by avoidance of unnecessary litigation”.[6]

Is serving of Legal Notice mandatory?

If a suit is filed against any public official or the government, then in that case it is necessary to serve a legal notice as per section 80 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. But practically, a legal notice is served by the advocated before filing of all civil cases. However, except for the suit filed against the government or public official it is not mandatory to serve a legal notice in all the civil cases. The main idea behind the legal notice is to give a last chance to the receiver to settle down the matter on common grounds. It brings knowledge to the opposite party about the legal matter against him and therefore, gives credibility to the allegations put down by the sender as they are expressly mentioned in the notice.[7]

Legal Notice under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act, 1881

A legal notice is to be sent to the issuer of the cheque in case of a cheque bounce. The time period in which the notice is to be sent is within 20 days from the date of cheque bounce.  If, even after 15 days of the delivery of the legal notice, no repayment has been made, then a person has a right to initiate a legal action within 30 days from the date of completion of 15 days time period.

However, there is also a criminal liability attached under this section under which the owner of the cheque may get a sentence of 2 years of imprisonment or fine or both.

  1. The notice should include the details of the transaction such as details of cheque, dishonour of cheque etc.
  2. Both the lawyer and the payee should sign the notice
  3. Notice is to be sent through registered post.[8]

[1] https://vakilsearch.com/advice/legal-notice-format/, last accessed on 24th June’19

[2] https://blog.ipleaders.in/legal-notice/

[3]https://legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-162-things-you-need-to-know-about-sending-a-legal-notice-.html, last accessed on 24th June/19

[4] https://blog.ipleaders.in/legal-notice/, last accessed on 24th June/19

[5] AIR 1984 SC 1043

[6] https://blog.ipleaders.in/legal-notice/, last accessed on 24th June’19

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid

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