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What are Demand Letters?

July 07, 2021
how to handle demand letters

Owed money? A demand letter can help 

A demand letter, also known as a lawyer’s letter or mise en demeure, is a written document that puts another party on notice and serves as a formal demand for some kind of action. Perhaps someone owes you money and you want to be paid. Or your contractor stopped working midway and you need the job to be finished. Or your landlord/tenant was supposed to do something ages ago and so far, hasn’t bothered. A demand letter lets you set out exactly what has happened – and what you expect to happen next. In some circumstances, courts can require proof that a demand letter was sent to the other party before you can file a legal action against them. Contact us for more information on when a demand letter is required. 

What’s in a demand letter? 

The purpose of a demand letter is to make everything clear. It’s possible the contractor who didn’t return to work on your kitchen thought he was done. The tenant who you told to fix the mailbox thinks it’s your responsibility. Maybe you’re sending emails to an old address. Because communication is not always clear – and because sometimes it is too clear (angry social media posts, for example), a demand letter sets out your situation in a concise factual manner and explains what you expect the next steps should be.  

For example, if someone has not paid you in six months and your invoice had a term of 30 days, you could send them a demand letter with this type of information: 

a. the date you were contacted by the company/person 

b. what work was asked of you and for what price 

c. what work you provided and on what date 

d. invoice date, sent to whom, and the payment terms 

e. how much money is owed to you 

f. a reasonable deadline for them to send you the funds owed 

g. what can happen if the funds are not sent by this date 

You and your lawyer can send the demand letter by registered mail or bailiff or some other manner whereby you can prove the other party received it. 

What’s not in a demand letter? 

A demand letter is not a Facebook or Twitter post. It is not the place for your favourite choice words or other strong emotion, including anger, disappointment or hate. It is a document that could become a part of your legal file so it should be objective and factual. This can be difficult for some, especially if you feel you’ve been wronged or perhaps you’ve been ignored. Regardless of the details, a demand letter should remain fact-based. 

Consult with a lawyer 

Having your demand letter sent by a lawyer may make the recipient take your issue more seriously. A lawyer will go over all your evidence and set out your case in a professional manner. The goal of a demand letter is to first try to resolve your problem quickly and without further formality, but if not, having your official notice sent on a lawyer’s letterhead indicates you’re ready to move forward with litigation, if needed. A lawyer will also know the specifics of serving the other party, interest rates on the amount owed (start date and amount) and other details that can help you. 

The take-away. 

A properly drafted (and sent) demand letter is a chance to state your case concisely in the hopes of resolving the conflict quickly. If your letter is ignored or receives a response that is not to your benefit, your lawyer will be ready to advise you on what to do next. So if you are frustrated by a breach of contract right now, let us help. And if you receive a demand letter, we can assist you with that, too. Sign up and get matters resolved! 

 

Articles on the LegalShield.ca website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or opinion in any manner. Laws mentioned in the articles vary from province to province. Any links to third-party sites in our articles are for general information purposes only and LegalShield is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, the content of linked sites. It is always advisable to seek legal counsel - and LegalShield can help. 

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