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What is letter before action and when is it mandatory to send it?
A letter before action is ordinarily called the legal notice in India. A legal notice is a formal written communication between the parties. The sender notifies the recipient through the legal notice about his intention of undertaking legal proceedings against the latter.
In India, a legal notice is considered to be the first step involved in any legal proceeding. All legal actions are generally initiated in India only after the legal notice has been served upon the other side, which may be an entity or individual. The said practice, however, is not mandatory in all cases. Such requirement if provided in any particular Act or statute then it is mandatory, however, if there is no specific provision then sending the legal notice is not mandatory in such cases.
Some of the instances where sending a pre-action letter/ legal notice is mandatory are as under:
In cases, where sending a pre-action letter/legal notice/notice is mandatory and is not served prior to initiation of legal action, such actions shall fail.
In India, all disputes related to property, recovery of dues, dishonour of cheques, commercial contracts, Arbitration proceedings, family dispute, labour matters and any other dispute of civil nature are suitable for sending a pre-action letter. However, as stated above, sending such letter is not mandatory in every case.
There are no circumstances where parties are permitted to refrain from sending a pre-action letter.
Disputes suitable for pre-action letters
Disputes not suitable for pre-action letters
A legal notice is generally issued in civil cases. However, in criminal cases, there is no such practice of issuance of a pre-action letter/ legal notice, as in case of a criminal offense the action is instituted by the state against the person committing the offence. Some of the disputes not suitable for pre-action letters are: