A legal notice is not just a bare letter or a notice; it is a letter to bring into the kind notice of the noticee (addressee) about what wrong the noticee/addressee has done to the sender. The Law Lexicon 2nd Edition Reprint 2008 defines a legal notice as; “A legal notice means, a notice provided by law, as distinguished from one prescribed by contract. It is notice given as and, in the manner; prescribed by law.” The 2nd edition dictionary also distinguishes a legal notice from other notices or letters. The lexicon quotes as; “Defects in form, by which a party is not misled to his injury, do not render a notice invalid; but a notice giving wrong information which the statute requires, cannot be regarded as legal notice.”
A legal notice is an initiation to resolve a dispute; generally, it is not mandatory to send a legal notice but the serving of a legal notice works more on the principles of natural justice and administration of justice than statutory principles. Therefore, a legal notice is a formal communication made to the person; or entity who has done wrong to the sender in order to indemnify the sender out of the court. The legal notice also acknowledges the receiver the intention of the sender to initiate the legal proceeding against the receiver.
Serving the legal notice makes the receiver aware that the sender is going to sue him; and further this formal legal document notifies the receiver the grievances and reasons for the suit. Serving a legal notice provides fairness and appropriate opportunity to the opposite party to indemnify the wrong done by that party. We can say that legal notice is a formal document sent as a step taken prior litigating; and is meant to warn the other party that legal action may be taken against him in case the opposite party fails to comply with certain pre-specified terms.
Statutory notice is the minimum legal notice or time that can be given to the opposite party to indemnify the victim. For instance, there is a matter of deficiency in services and thereby you are required to send a legal notice on behalf of your client; then there are no fixed criteria to set a time frame that in how many days the limitation of legal notice will expire. You can give the opposite party fifteen days or thirty days as well but; if in case any law prescribes the time limit then the same time shall be given as an opportunity to the opposite party for indemnification. Now, let us take another example; suppose there is a case of dishonouring of a cheque; and you are required to send a legal notice to the opposite party to make the good of the loss.
The Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 itself provides that a legal notice shall be sent to the opposite party granting the opposite party fifteen days’ time for the payment of the amount mentioned on the cheque.
Therefore, it is a very clear principle that in cases where any statute provides the limitation period for the legal notice; then the same shall be complied else the notice shall not be considered as a valid legal notice in the eyes of law and shall create hinderance in filing the suit or a complaint.
Difference between a Formal Letter and a Legal Notice
Indeed, a legal notice is a formal communication with the opposite party; or an indemnifier but still there is a vast difference between the two. A letter just to demand the opposite party for indemnification can be simply a formal letter; but in case of a legal notice you intimate the opposite party that in the event the opposite party fails to comply with the requisites mentioned in the legal notice; then the dispatcher shall be suing against the opposite party on the expiry of the time stipulation as mentioned in the legal notice. This is a major technical difference between a formal letter and a legal notice. In other words; a legal notice is the last warning to the opposite party to indemnify prior to filing of the case but in case of a formal letter; it can be a simple demand notice without intimating the intention to sue the opposite party.
For a lawyer it is essential to categorically draw a line between a general legal notice, a statutory notice and a formal letter. In every matter the lawyer should refer the laws relating to the subject matter of the dispute to make it clear about the statutory provisions of sending a legal notice to the opposite party.
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