Response to pre-action letter and limitation period

Response to pre-action letter and limitation period


In India, there is no such time limit prescribed under the law for sending a response to a legal notice. In general, the time limit to file a response to a legal notice varies from case-to-case basis, ranging from 15 days-45 days. However, in cases where a period is specifically provided in the statute for the said purpose, the same has to be followed mandatorily. Ordinarily, a party should try and reply to the notice as soon as possible and within the period mentioned in the notice/pre-action letter.

A reply to a legal notice should contain all the necessary facts and averments regarding the case. A reply to legal notice must incorporate reply to all the facts as stated in the legal notice sent by the Claimant, which the respondent wish to state in its defence.

However, it is not mandatory to reply to the legal notice in every case, except in cases where a statutory notice is sent before initiating any legal action. Yet it is advisable to reply to legal notice within the time limit provided in the notice sent by the sender. The consequences of not replying to notice is not an offence under the law, however, one must bring on record the relevant facts/ averments in his defence. In case no response is sent, and a legal action is initiated by the sender, the Court may take adverse inference against the defaulting party.

There is no standard form for a good response but if a person chooses to reply to a legal notice, he/she should make sure that the following information is clearly mentioned:

  • The reply has to be addressed to the lawyer of the person or to the person who has sent the notice.
  • Name, description and address of the sender must be provided.
  • Mention the facts of the issue with the relevant dates, events and time. Then, refute the allegations made against you by the sender.
  • It is advisable not to admit or accept any of the allegation made by the sender.
  • If you have any grievances against the sender, mention them. This will form as a part of your counter-claim.
  • Provide a summary of your defence to the issue. Question Set:
     

Limitation period

The legal notice should be issued within the limitation period for filing the suit. [1]

In India, the limitation for initiating any civil action is ordinarily 3 years from the date when right to sue accrues. However, different period of limitation has been provided in some of the statutes. There is no provision for condonation of delay in case limitation period has expired for an action to be initiated under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. However, in certain acts/ statutes there are specific provisions which entitles a party to seek condonation of delay in case limitation period has expired. Since, pre-action letter is required to be issued prior to initiating the court proceedings, therefore, once the court proceedings have been initiated the same cannot be suspended for the purpose of complying with the pre-action obligations. In cases, where issuance of pre-action letter/ legal notice is mandatory under the statute, the court proceedings shall fail, if the pre-action letter/ legal notice is not issued prior to initiating the court proceedings.

Effectiveness of a pre-action letter

In India, a pre-action letter/notice is considered effective in avoiding the need of legal proceedings as it provides for a platform and a chance to both the parties to reach a consensus without taking the route of the Court proceedings.

It is a well-known fact that the process of litigation consumes lots of money and take long to resolve a dispute. This procedure of sending pre-action letter/notice gives a midways to both the parties to settle the dispute amicably and save their time and money.

Practical tips

Practical tips that should be keep in mind while issuing a legal notice in India:

  • It is advisable to approach a lawyer or a legal expert for this purpose in order to avoid committing any mistake. A lawyer with good skills of drafting can collect information from you and send a notice on your behalf.
  • The notice must be in writing and must be sent on the letterhead of the entity/ lawyer sending the same.
  • It must contain all the necessary details of both the parties along with the complete facts.
  • The notice must contain proper summary of relief claimed along with the supporting documents, if any.
  • All the necessary details relating to the names of people involved, their address, contact information, grievance caused, date and time when the grievance was caused, previous attempts of contacting the person or company for resolving the dispute, and any document or evidence in relation with the grievance.
  • The relief sought in money, kind or service from the person or company to whom the legal notice is being sent
  • The laws under which the relief is being sought or action to be taken from the receiver.
  • Issuer must specify a time limit for the receiver to reply to the notice.
  • It should be properly signed by the person sending the same.
  • The reply must be in writing and must be sent on the letterhead of the person along with the necessary details and facts of the issue.
  • Check the limitation period to reply to the notice.
  • Check the contractual obligation of the Claimant, if any.
  • It is advisable not to admit or accept any of the allegation made by the sender.
  • If the content in the notice is not relevant, then one can counter threat a claim or damaged against a sender.

 


[1] BSCPL Infrastructure Ltd. v. Government of Karnataka, R.F.A. No. 982/2016

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