It is often possible to resolve a dispute without the need to resort to a lawsuit. Avoiding such litigation though the use of properly drafted demand letters can allow a person to obtain the desired outcome swiftly, while avoiding the cost and delays associated with a lawsuit.
A demand letter is a letter drafted by an attorney, on the attorney’s law firm stationary, which invites the recipient to take or refrain from taking certain action. The demand letter will either implicitly or explicitly threaten further legal action – such as a lawsuit – if the demand is not heeded.
Demand letters are common in many areas of the law, including business law, family law, and civil law. In the business context, they are often used to resolve disputes between companies, or between a business and a customer. In family law, everything from visitation interference to financial matters can be addressed. In the civil law setting, demand letters have a place in everything from car accidents to real estate disputes.
There are many benefits to having an attorney draft a demand letter. An attorney’s knowledge of the law is an obvious benefit that ensures the situation has been analyzed and that the right statements are made in the demand letter. This is important to help resolve the case, as well as to avoid potential liability, as there are situations (e.g. landlord/tenant or employer/employee) where making a legally improper demand can result in serious legal consequences. The fact that the demand letter comes from an attorney on their law firm’s stationary also helps the recipient to see that the matter is being taken seriously and that the threat of legal action is not an empty threat. Finally, since the attorney is on the client’s side yet detached enough to be objective, the demand letter process can proceed based upon facts and law, rather than the emotion that is common many times there is a situation that warrants a demand letter.
As an attorney who has represented many clients in litigation in Illinois and Iowa, I have seen quite a few cases that could have been resolves in an easier, less expensive, and all-around better manner had the situation been brought to me sooner so that it could be resolved without the need for litigation. Those who are facing a potential lawsuit are wise to seek an attorney earlier, rather than later.
It is certainly true that every case cannot be resolved through a demand letter. Sometimes the parties are simply too far apart in terms of their positions, or one party is too unreasonable, for a case to be resolved by agreement without litigation. However, even in those cases, the information learned during the negotiations that follow a demand letter can often help put the case in the best posture possible to proceed to court, meaning that time spent on a demand letter and negotiations is usually time very well spent.