Legal Notices and their Replies [How to draft reply to legal notices] By CS Koshani Shah

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Dear Professional Colleagues,

With the advent of the Companies Act, 2013, Goods and Service Tax, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, RERA, and the other new legislation in India, the compliances towards various departments have increased hastily which has ultimately increased in the quantum of issuance of legal notices.

Thus, it becomes really important to understand its legalities!!!

When we see in the Indian Context, there is certain legislation such as Indian Contract Act, Trademark Act which makes it compulsory to serve legal notice to the opponent showing the intent of suit.

What are the legal notices?

Legal notices are basically intimation to any person or party to produce any facts or to put allegation on any party/person.

Legal notices can be sent by any individual on his own or through any professional.

Is it compulsory to reply to legal notices?

Layman, who is not legally literate do not understand as to how to deal with such notices and end up paying high fees to legal professionals.

Well, it is not compulsory to reply to all the legal notices received. However, it is highly advisable to reply to the legal notice, keeping in mind the applicable laws.

Also, there is no requirement of law that a legal notice can be only replied by a professional. The person on whom the legal notice is served may reply without any assistance.  

How to draft reply to legal notices?

Step 1: Before drafting a reply, it is more important to read and understand the content of legal notice precisely.

Step 2: The applicable laws with reference to the legal notice shall be studied thoroughly.

Step 3: In most of the legal notices, there will be a time limitation of replying and if not done within the mentioned time frame, it might lead to heavy penalties or in some other undesired consequences. It must be made sure that the timeline for replying to the legal notice is duly taken care of.

Step 4: Designate the reply properly. The subject of the reply plays an important role. It must be followed by the reference of the notice to which the reply is being given.

Each paragraph of the legal notice should be answered pointwise. The first paragraph of the reply should clearly either deny all the allegations or justify each of them. 
If it is mentioned in the notice to submit any documents in the notice, then the documents should be attached as annexure to the reply.

Step 5: Point out details of the obligations which are unfulfilled by the sender of the legal notice very carefully.

Step 6: Any legal notice received, should be preserved the way it was received. Also, keep a record of the date on which it was received. Any notices received in hard copy should be scanned and saved for your records. These notices play an important role if the matter is dragged to any court.
After the reply has been drafted, read it again to confirm whatever is mentioned in it.

Merely drafting is not enough, it must be made sure that the reply is sent.

If it is sent by email then read recipient must be kept on to make sure that the reply has been received. If it is sent by post then its acknowledgment must be stored for the record.

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