Meaning: When a case is filed, then it is necessary to inform the opponent party about such suit in a legal way by a notice is called as a legal notice. It is filed only in civil cases.
The need for legal notice: A person thinks of so many alternatives before going for a legal suit. There may be mediation, mutual settlement, or settlement by arbitration. Moreover, a legal suit is expensive, time- consuming so people try to avoid it by choosing an alternative option. But if legal notice is not served, and there is a direct suit, it would not be possible for the opponent to avail the other options. Also, sufficient time should be given to the opponent to prepare his case. If he doesn’t know for what the suit is, then it would be impossible for him to be prepared for that. It is a part of the principle of natural justice and is included in the right to hear the other party.
Legal Notice in case the opponent is a govt. party: It is given in section 80 of code of Civil Procedure,1908 that
- In the case of govt. employee or public servant a written notice is compulsory to be given at least 2 months before the suit.
- In exceptional cases, a notice may not be served when there is the immediate requirement of relief but no relief should be granted unless it is informed to the govt. about it.
Essentials for a legal notice:
- It should contain the name of the plaintiffs and the address of the plaintiff.
- It should contain material facts of the case.
- The relief which the appellant seeks to claim from the defendant.
- The reason giving rise to such a suit.
- It should contain the seal of the court and the signature of the clerk.
Procedure for filing a legal notice:
- One can send the notice himself or do it through a lawyer.
- It is advisable to do so through a lawyer because they can draft a legal notice in a more accurate way and more precisely while covering all the essential ingredients.
- The notice should be directed to the respondent.
- Reasons should be mentioned that what compelled the appellant to do so.
- Time should be given for replying or the acceptance of the offer of the appellant which is generally 30-60 days.
- A notice should be given in a way in which law prescribes or the way which is reasonable of doing it.
- A copy must be kept with yourself.
- Words should be chosen rationally as once the notice is given it cannot be changed and one cannot back out from his statement in the court. So, the drafting is to be done in a proper way.
A notice should be given even if the party already knows about the lawsuit:
We don’t have to give the other party a single chance to take advantage of our negligence. So it is safe if we give notice of the suit even if the defendant already knows about it so that he cannot claim later that he did not know about the suit and he had not received any such notice.
Replying To Legal Notice:
Although, not replying to the legal notice is not a crime but it can be advantageous to the other side. It is advisable to reply in a proper way by using the legal clauses. It would give benefit to the other side to file the suit if the reply is not received within the reasonable time. If there is a reasonable excuse for not replying in a reasonable time then it may be taken into account. But not replying to the legal notice will not automatically give way to ex parte order. It would be given only when the respondent doesn’t appear before the court after the repeated summons by the Court.
Checking before replying to the notice:
- What are the contents of the legal notice?
- What are the limitation period and reply within it?
- If there is any rebuttal from the actual contractual obligations from the side of the claimant, then it can be used as a favorable point in the suit.
- If there is no such point then the respondent has to prepare new arguments for that.