Writing a good letter of demand involves professionalism in dealing with people and information. There’s a method that  can be illustrated. This post considers a fee for service contract that has gone wrong requiring issuing of a demand letter.

How to do the job properly

Before turning to commentary and more guidance, first listen to this video on how to do the job properly.

It’s our speciality

After you finish reading this post, turn to our Demand Letter Drafting & Review page. Many clients have commended us for our letters and how they help solve problems quickly.

We often begin the job by asking a client to use the Chronology of Events Form below. It is a template we provide to clients to provide us with a first version to work with. It saves time and money by helping to reduce the number and length of meetings and telephone or video call interactions.

This is the template form we’ve used for two decades and provided to clients for them to prepare the first version of their chronology of events

More guidance using a case study

Assume things have not gone to plan under a fee-for-service contract. The service was delivered but the fee was not paid. The unpaid service provider has made repeated requests. Harsh words have been spoken and tension has arisen.

The two parties should avoid the slippery slope. They should try to work together to overcome issues. They’ve tried negotiation with no resolution. There’s been haggling and even verbal abuse. A lawyer might have been called in earlier, but as usually, hasn’t been.

The unpaid party now meets with a lawyer.

Having gone to a lawyer, the unpaid party must communicate a story, collect and supply the evidence, and then help the lawyer examine the facts and evidence. That’s were the above Chronology of Events Form is most useful. If all this is not done the lawyer should not be forming an opinion and giving advice on what to do next.

It helps if there’s a well written contract. But typically in an unpaid money case the contract is a mess.

Today a good letter of demand is not just one on a lawyer’s letterhead that states money is owed and must be paid within “X” number of days, otherwise court action will follow.

Before framing a demand the contract gone wrong needs interpretation.

The contract may be in writing or it may be purely verbal. Additionally it may be a contract that the law will recognise arising from the conduct or interaction between the parties during which a contractual relationship was formed.

Getting the story involves time for the lawyer. The lawyer must collect the facts to assess them. In these cases it always takes time to unravel the jumble of events and put them into a chronological order. To develop the chronology, use can be made of the above Chronology of Events Form.

The search to distinguish and test facts and then go onto checking available evidence, opinions, and presumed solutions is common to the professions. It’s also what letter of demand professionalism involves.

For a business lawyer letter of demand professionalism involves applying more than just legal knowledge. It requires examination of the players on the stage to assess what has motivated their contract-related actions, how commercial considerations affect their positions and behaviours, and how to deal with the play of human ego and psychology in the mix. All this helps shape a good letter of demand. There is then a methodology for demand letters.

By definition a good letter of demand states its case in clear language and achieves a defined and clear result, if not immediately then in due course.

A demand letter that responds to a situation intuitively is not enough. Still, instincts are relevant to listen to.

So too is getting on with the codification of facts and evidence, writing information down and structuring it in the demand letter, creating a supporting rationale or foundation for each legal demand and testing at all stages.

It’s this method that produces an effective letter of demand and it is being “effective” that makes it good.

Accordingly, if there is not compliance with a well-prepared professional demand letter, then the foundation is created for court action or mediation using the already gathered and organised facts and evidence and legal opinion based on them. There can then be confidence that an outcome is likely to be successful.

It’s our speciality

Finally, turn to this page for more information on our specialist Demand Letter Drafting & Review service.

Contact us with any questions or requests.

Noric Dilanchian