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An introduction to drafting demand letters

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A demand letter, or a letter before action as it is sometimes called in the UK, is a formal notice demanding that the recipient perform a legal obligation. It is typically used to persuade the recipient to take or cease some action, rectify a problem, pay a sum of money or honor a contract, on specific terms and within a specified time, or to revoke a waiver of rights, or simply to provoke a reaction that the writer can use to his/her client’s advantage.

A demand letter gives the recipient a chance to perform the obligation without being taken to court. Indeed, in many instances, it encourages the recipient to settle the matter. Overall, demand letters should be a firm statement of a client’s position and intentions, and while demand letters are often written to intimidate, they should not bully the recipient.

Back to: Legal Writing > A demand letter 1: American English
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