All organizations and individuals are governed by laws. For this reason, when misunderstandings and disputes arise, it is up to the displeased party to resort to the intervention of courts of law.
This requires the disgruntled party to file a petition at a court of law and issue a legal notice to the other party before the matter is finalized in court.
What is a Legal Notice?
Legal notice is simply the requirement that a party must be furnished with sufficient knowledge concerning the legal processes that affect his rights and duties or obligations. In other words, it is a way of notifying individuals or organisations about a matter by using a method required by the law courts.
A legal notice, served to a defendant, must contain all the facts and complaints made in the petition. This is to inform the defendant about what he is being accused of, and he (the defendant) is given a reasonable period to answer; informing the court whether he agrees to or disagrees with the facts stated there in.
Who Can Serve a Legal Notice?
There are various types of legal notices and anybody, if he has gone through the right legal procedures, has the right to issue a legal notice.
There are legal procedures to be adhered to when serving a legal notice and any complainant who fails to follow those procedures does so at his own peril.
After a petition has been filed, the court issues an order to serve legal notice if the court finds the petition reasonable.
When is a legal notice said to be properly served?
After having gone through the necessary court procedures to obtain a legal notice permit, the notice you serve the defendant with must contain all the complaints, accusations or charges that have been filed at the court and this legal notice must be personally served to the accused.
In other words, the legal notice must be directly handed over to the accused and not to another person (a friend, relative or middleman).
What if a Legal Notice is not served or is improperly served?
Notice is a fundamental element of court proceedings. By law, all the parties (the court, defendant and petitioner) should be reliably informed about all the relevant facts pertaining to the case.
The legal notice is necessary to allow the defendant prepare properly for the court hearing. Such preparations involve the hiring of lawyers and compilation of legal documents etc. Until the law court is satisfied that all parties have received adequate and proper notice so that they may take the necessary actions to protect their rights, the court will not proceed with your case.
If notices are improperly served, it may result in one or more of the following:
A delay in the case.
An already passed court order in your favour may be overturned, revoked or declared invalid.
Additional costs or court charges may be incurred.
You may be asked to re-publish or re-serve the notice.
What if the defendant(s) cannot be reached?
There are instances where the defendant/accused cannot be reached by the petitioner due to a change of address or other reasons. However, that does not nulify the need to serve a notice.
You will be required to serve a notice by publication. A notice by publication refers to running a legal advertisement through the newspapers or any other appropriate means.
However, a notice by publication is not a first choice option and will not be granted unless the petitioner can provide satisfactory proof to the court that he has taken all the proper and reasonable steps to locate and personally serve the defendant with the notice but all to no avail.