Cease and desist letters are issued by a law firm to a potential defendant prior to the commencement of formal legal proceedings. These letters often include a demand to stop the continued infringement or breach, and for payment of damages. In practical terms, these letters seek to achieve the following objectives;
- Send a strong signal to the defendant that you are serious about enforcing your legal rights
- State your legal position in sufficient detail such that the defendant is persuaded that your legal position is sound
- Strengthen your position by preventing the offending party from alleging that they were acting in good faith and that the violation was unintentional or unknown.
Note that these letters are not actual Court summons or orders, and are relatively inexpensive. Given the impact such a letter might have on resolution of the matter, it’s advisable to turn for assistance to an experienced lawyer to draft a formal demand, setting out the consequences should your concerns be taken lightly.
If you have received a cease and desist letter we have created a separate article covering how to potentially respond here.
When to Send a Cease and Desist Letter?
While there are numerous situations when these letters may be employed, there are typical cases when one sees them most often, such as:
- Infringement of copyright, trademark, logo, or patent. One of the most common examples is when someone uses plagiarized content or tries to capitalize on someone’s else logo or brand name.
- Slander or libel. While the former stands for defamatory information spread verbally, the latter relates to written statements describing someone in a negative way. These can include fake negative feedback by competitors who are trying to undermine your clients’ base or cut traffic to your website or any situation where someone is infringing on your reputation.
- Stalking and other types of harassment. Although sending a letter to a harassing collector wouldn’t clear off your debt, it can help to stop unsolicited communication. At the same time, sending demands to individuals who are trying to stalk or harass may provoke them to adverse actions, so in these cases, you might also want to consider other means for protection from harassment available in Singapore.
- Infringement of contract. There are various types of infringements of contracts, whether expressed or implied, and the cease and desist letters may be used as a formal demand to the other party to stop violation.
- Encroachment of boundaries. This often happens when one of the neighbors violates property lines. Although sending a cease and desist letter is hardly the first step to be made in relation to an infringing neighbor, it can be employed if your attempts to raise concerns in an informal setting do not produce the desired result.
What Information Shall Be Mentioned?
Although there are no formal rules or requirements for a cease and desist letter in Singapore, it should be drafted within certain guidelines developed in legal practice in order to be effective. Besides being made in legal language, it shall include all relevant information and statements, such as:
- sender information so that your recipients or their lawyers will know whom to contact if they decide to negotiate or prepare a reply,
- recipient details, including correct name and address,
- description of the violation, e.g., the infringement of copyright, boundaries, reputation or privacy,
- demand to stop the violation,
- description of legal grounds for such a demand, for example, details of a certificate of copyright registration or other proof of possessing the rights being violated,
- description of the further legal proceedings should the recipient fail to comply,
- reservation of your rights such as the right to claim compensation for damages and use other legal remedies even if the infringement is corrected.
How does a lawyer help?
As can be seen from above, despite bearing the character of private communication between the parties, the cease and desist letters in Singapore should be made as a formal document which must reflect the actual legal standing of both the sender and the recipient.
Although there are samples of cease and desist letter and even online templates, oftentimes, it’s better to turn for assistance to a lawyer. While drafting and sending the letter on your own can save you some legal costs, just having the letter sent on your behalf by a legal firm on their letterhead would immediately add weight to your claim.
Another reason to involve a lawyer on your side is that your recipients will most often show your cease and desist letter to their lawyer, who will scrutinize it to determine whether your demands are grounded and legitimate. It’s often advantageous to have the letter written by a professional to make sure that all your statements are accurate and to show the recipient that you are prepared to take legal action if needed.
Method of Sending a Cease and Desist Letter in Singapore
Although sometimes, such a letter may be sent just by email in an attachment or as a plain text, in many circumstances, it’s advisable to send it in paper to give it a formal tone and produce more effect on the recipient.
The most expedient way to send the letter is by registered mail or courier with confirmation of receipt. Having such confirmation will also add to your case later if the matter goes to the court, demonstrating to the Court that you have used all legal means before filing your claim.
Following up on Your Demands
In the ideal case, after receiving your letter, the recipient should stop the infringement and/or compensate for the damages. In practice, this doesn’t happen in every case, so that it’s important to take further steps promptly.
Although most of the cease and desist letters demand to stop the infringement immediately, there should be a reasonable time given to correct it. However, you don’t hear from your recipients in several days after they have received your letter and the violation continues, you can reasonably conclude that they have decided to ignore your demands.
In this situation, it’s essential to take the steps described in your letter for non-compliance cases. If the violation continues, and the cease and desist letter is not followed by further legal actions, it will most likely get even worse as the perpetrators would presume you are unable to defend yourself.
A common misconception is that the follow up legal costs would be too high – speak with your lawyer to find out the costs involved to make an informed decision.