Traditionally, a demand letter is issued before taking legal action against a person or entity you have a dispute with. For example, a demand letter can help resolve payment issues between an owner and contractor before litigation is sought. A well-drafted demand letter can be the difference between a lengthy and expensive legal process and a quick resolution, and something as simple as how the demand letter is worded can drastically alter the outcome. Below, a Charlotte contractor attorney from Cotney Construction Law will detail what to avoid when drafting a demand letter and why you should partner with a construction attorney to write your demand letters.
Don’t Be Vague
The length of the demand letter will depend on the details concerning the dispute, but the demand letter should be short and to the point. When an attorney drafts your demand letter, they will be concise and lay out your exact argument over what is owed and the repercussions for failing to resolve the dispute. If you write your own demand letter, are too vague, and leave out what is owed, the owner may feel justified to refuse payment.
There’s an art to writing an effective demand letter. You never want to word the letter in a way that implies that the owner is stuck in a corner with no options. Be firm, but give them a clear way out. Additionally, the inclusion of a deadline will depend on whether or not you believe the owner will respond positively to a set date. Don’t set a deadline if you think they would be willing to pay after that date. If you are unsure about including a deadline in a demand letter, a Charlotte construction litigation lawyer can provide assistance.
Don’t Be Threatening
This goes without saying, but never utilize threatening language that makes the letter sound like an extortion plot. You’re potentially threatening legal action, not threatening the person themselves. While the dispute of payment may have become personal, a demand letter is meant to encourage a desirable resolution. The use of threatening or insulting language may embolden the owner into not paying when they otherwise would have. And remember, a judge may one day look at this letter in court. Don’t let your demand letter be a poor representation of you or your company. That’s why it’s best to hire a knowledgeable third party legal professional that understands construction law and is not emotionally invested in the dispute.
Don’t Look Unprofessional
No one is going to take a handwritten letter seriously. A typed letter with no grammatical mistakes will go a long way. Even better, a letter from a law firm with a professional letterhead is an effective way to show the other party that you are serious about resolving the issue. From understanding the law to writing a professional, non-threatening letter, we strongly encourage you to have a Charlotte construction litigation attorney draft your demand letter. A well-written demand letter will speak volumes and convey to the owner that legal action is a very real possibility.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.