The Value of a Demand Letter Sent by Your Trusted Business Lawyer
It is almost inevitable that, when running your San Diego business, you are going to end up in various business-related disputes. Some vendor will not deliver, some customer does not pay, or your landlord has made a mistake on the invoice. Getting your trusted and experienced business lawyer involved helps, and the first thing to be done is send a demand letter. You may think, “Why bother with a demand letter?” Actually, there are many good reasons to begin with a demand letter.
San Diego Business Disputes: Maybe There is a Mistake
It happens to all of us – there is just an honest mistake. We thought the invoice was paid, we sent the wrong invoice, or a hundred other things might go wrong. A demand letter from your lawyer on letterhead generally gets more attention that the other mail that arrives. Plus, if YOU get a lawyer involved, then THEY get a lawyer involved. Their lawyer says: “What’s up?” They investigate and realize a mistake has been made. They say, “Sorry, it is a mistake.” We say, “No problem,” and business continues as usual.
San Diego Business Disputes: Attorney Letterhead and Envelopes
As said, attorney envelopes letterhead tend to get more attention than the other mail. Think of it this way: If you think the problem is serious enough to call your lawyer and have him or her send a letter, then maybe the problem is serious. Now everyone is paying attention and, sometimes, that is all that is needed.
San Diego Business Disputes: Clearly Stating the Problem, the Violation, the Bad Behavior
Aside from quickly fixing a mistake, a demand letter sent by your lawyer is an opportunity to state clearly, in writing, what you believe the legal problem is, what you believe is the violation of the contract or the law and/or what you believe the other party’s bad behavior is. There is much value in the articulation of problems. Maybe you have been having trouble with some vendor or supplier for months. Maybe there is a list of problems. Maybe you have complained here and there, sent a few emails, a text or two. But nothing has helped. In our view, getting the list written down is the first step to resolving the problems or deciding it is time for a new supplier.
San Diego Business Disputes: A Demand Letter is a Legal Necessity
Looking ahead to possible litigation, putting a clear demand letter into the mail — or attached to an email — sets the stage for legal action. Under many circumstances, you must give “commercially reasonable” notice of certain types of problems and you must allow the other party some time to cure. A demand letter from your skilled business lawyer is the necessary precondition to taking legal action. In fact, often, the best legal practice is to send more than one demand letter and be lenient in terms of allowing the offending party time to fix the issues. This can look good to a judge and jury.
San Diego Business Disputes: Admissibility Under the Rules of Evidence
If litigation is foreseeable, one additional consideration is the need for your demand letter(s) to be admissible in a court under the California Rules of Evidence. Your experienced business attorney will draft the demand letter in such a way as to ensure admissibility. Conversely, sometimes you do NOT want the letter to be admissible. A good lawyer can do that, too.
San Diego Business Disputes: Two Audiences for the Demand Letter
Generally speaking, a demand letter is written with two audiences in mind: First, the other party and his or her lawyer and, second, a potential judge and jury. As such, you want to specify and give proper legal notice of contract or law violations to the other party. You also want the letter to clearly identify legal issues and wrong-doings for a judge and jury. Plus, you want the letter to be firm and to-the-point while also being polite and professional. That is a balance that a good business lawyer can achieve.
If you end up litigating, all the correspondence will be examined by the lawyers and judges and you want to make a good impression. An angry, hostile, or abusive letter will hurt your chances during litigation.
San Diego Business Disputes: Make Sure the Demand Letter is Accurate
In addition to being professional, any demand letter must be reasonably accurate. If you claim your customer owes you $200,000, but your customer only owes $2,000, that is going to look bad in front of judge and jury. Your trusted business lawyer will help you avoid that particular pitfall.
Contact San Diego Corporate Law Today
If you need a demand letter sent or want more information, contact attorney Michael Leonard of San Diego Corporate Law. Mr. Leonard provides a full panoply of legal services for San Diego and California businesses. Mr. Leonard has been named a “Rising Star” three years running by SuperLawyers.com and “Best of the Bar” by the San Diego Business Journal. Mr. Leonard can be reached at (858) 483-9200 or via email.