A Beginners Guide to Drafting a Legal Notice

What is a Legal Notice?

A legal notice is a legal action in the form of formal communication made to a person/entity informing the same to undertake legal proceedings against him/her. It is an initial note of information to letting the person or an entity know that he or she is has made a grievance and the cause of legal action is taken in respect of it. If not dealt with cautiously, it might be a factor that the court may consider, if the case proceeds to litigation. Thus, a person aggrieved has an option to file a legal notice to the person/entity.

Advantages of Legal Notice.

Legal notice operates as upper hand. If any legal notice is sent by a person, the sender is always contemplated to be at upper hand. Legal notice helps in diminishing risk as it helps in protecting the legal rights of both the parties and a sound drafted notice can go a long way in dismissing the legal risks. Legal notice also helps in reducing the vagueness as the laws and rules applicable on the person are more precisely considered and it thus helps in reducing the ambiguity involved in the minds of people relating to their legal rights and obligations.

How to Write a Notice?

Writing an effective notice is a kind of art that can be acquired with practice with keeping some basic points in mind while writing them out. Your notice should give complete information and must be written in a clear and lucid style and easily understandable language.

  • Content that a good effective notice must include in it are:
  • Name of the Organization, Institution or Office issuing it.
  • Date of issuing of a particular notice.
  • The heading ‘Notice’ to make it very clear.
  • A suitable description/ eye-catching caption or heading to hold the immediate attention of the reader.
  • Purpose for which it has been written like calling a meeting, drawing attention, making an appeal or informing general public about some issue of concern etc.
  • Details of schedule i.e. date, time, venue, programme, duration etc. in case the notice is about an event to be organized in the near future.

Format of Notice Writing

Notice circulated for some kind of official/non-official Meeting should definitely have:-

  • Date
  • Time
  • Venue
  • Agenda/ Purpose
  • Who is to attend
  • Specific Instructions
  • Contact Person/ Address

Notice issued for informing the masses/general public for change of Name

  • Drawing attention
  • Existing name
  • Address
  • New Name
  • Reason of Change

Important Points to Remember while writing a notice:

  • Notices can use capital letters for details such as names of organizations, captions, an important detail within the message itself.
  • The date of the notice can be placed at the top right or left, or bottom right or left hand corner.
  • The entire content of the notice is centered within a ‘box’.
  • The individual/s responsible for issuing the notice indicates the name below the signature in parenthesis, followed by their designation/s.
  • Complete sentences need not always be used in all types of notices. Abbreviations and symbols an also be used.
  • Usually future time references predominate over other tense forms.
  • There is penalty for exceeding the prescribed word limit (i.e. 50 words for the body of the notice)
  • Order your additional clauses in a logical sequence.  Generally, it is a good idea to keep sentences short but not cryptic. The intent of your text must be clear. If your clause is long, consider dividing the clause into sections.
  • Review your text. Make sure your meaning is clear. Have someone else review what you wrote to ensure the meaning is apparent. It is not unusual to re-write a sentence or clause several times to ensure that it is simple and clear. The last thing you want is for a judge or arbitrator to discard an important clause because the meaning is unclear or ambiguous.
  • Draft your clause in Plain English.  Plain English means language that is simple and conveys ideas with the greatest possible clarity.
  • Omit needless words.  Do not use jargon/legalese such as “hereto” and “the said item”.
  • Avoid making redundant clauses and ensure clauses do not contradict.  Read your document carefully to ensure that your additional clause is not repeating or contradicting what has already been stated in the document.
  • Use numerals and words both, to denote amounts.
  • Refer to people and companies by name.  If names have been defined by a shorthand identifier within the document, then use that name instead. This is especially true of the parties to the agreement. These are usually identified at the beginning of your contract. You should use these predefined terms throughout the rest of the document. Example: the Landlord, the Tenant, the Customer, the Service Provider, etc.
  • Do not use multiple names or identifiers to refer to the same person or thing. It will appear to the reader that you are introducing new or different objects.
  • Do not use terms such as: they, us, we, our, you, me, etc. These terms are ambiguous and confusing.
  • Do not abbreviate words.
  • Emphasize the positive and avoid using multiple negatives in sentences (for example, change “Notice will not be effective unless it is delivered in person.” to “Notice will only be effective if it is delivered in person.
  • Do not use all capitals.
  • Do not forget to spell-check, twice!

Is it mandatory to send a legal notice?

This always depends on the issue. It is not mandatory to always send a legal notice. But in certain cases, it is recommended that a legal notice is sent before filing cases in the court of law. An example would be Section 80 CPC (Civil Procedure Code) that provides the mandatory issue of legal notice before suing the recipient party. Similarly, Section 138 of Negotiable Instrument Act also makes it mandatory to send a legal notice for bounced cheque before getting to the court. And so, filing a legal notice in certain cases can be quite destructive. Hence it is advised that in cases where sending a legal notice is not mandatory, it should certainly be avoided altogether. Also, sometimes sending a legal notice in some of the consumer matters is also gives the appropriate remedy to the consumer and the cost of litigation is saved.

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