What is this document?
A cease and desist letter is a document that requires an individual or company to refrain from doing a certain thing. It is sent by a law firm in advance of litigation.
The purpose of the letter is to:
- Notify the defaulting party of their infringing conduct;
- Require the defaulting party to cease and desist their infringing conduct or activity; and
- Warn the defaulting party of further legal action in case of non-compliance with the requirement.
A cease and desist letter usually involves breach of contractual obligations or other rights, intellectual property infringement, harassment, defamation, etc.
What are the options for a response?
If you receive a cease and desist letter, it is important that you carefully analyse the legitimacy of the claim and allegations.
The responses you can take will depend on the circumstances of your particular case:
- If the sender has strong grounds to take legal action against you and if the request in the letter does not disrupt you or your business, the easiest way to deal with it is to comply with the demands.
- You can serve the sender with a defence denying the allegations, if you are sure you have not done anything wrong, or try to negotiate an agreement to settle the allegations. This is your chance to make your own demand if you have grounds to do so.
- If you are unsure about the matters alleged in the demand, you can write to the sender making a request for clarification and further particulars.
- If you believe the demand is a false claim, you can ignore it. Although you are not legally obliged to respond to a cease and desist letter, ignoring it is not recommended considering you may be served with an originating process.
What is the legal effect of ignoring it?
If you fail to respond a cease and desist letter, the sender could then start a case in court against you, which is a costly and time-consuming process.
What documents and information do you need to give your lawyer?
If you have been served with a cease and desist letter, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible and provide your lawyer with:
- the cease and desist letter;
- any documents related to the claim;
- information regarding whether or not there was an infringement;
- information regarding facts and circumstances of the dispute.