A cease and desist letter is sent to a recipient to demand that they stop carrying out an illegal or allegedly illegal activity. It is not legally binding but may be a crucial step taken before a lawsuit.
If you’re wondering what a cease and desist letter is, why you would use one, and how to write your own, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to find out the answers to all the questions and see an example of a cease and desist template.
What Is a Cease and Desist Letter?
A cease and desist letter is a written notice. It can be sent by an individual or issued by a court or government agency. If an individual or a company sends it, then it is simply a request. However, when sent by a court or government agency, it has legal power.
Cease and desist letters are commonly written by an individual. If a court or a government agency writes it, it will be referred to as a cease and desist order.
A cease and desist letter is used as a cautionary notice to the recipient that if they do not stop their conduct, then legal action may be taken. The alleged wrongdoer can choose to ignore the letter. In this case, the writer may pursue litigation and use the cease and desist letter as evidence within their lawsuit.
When to Use a Cease and Desist Letter
Cease and desist letters are used in many circumstances to demand the recipient stop their illegal or allegedly illegal conduct. Cases where a cease and desist may be used include the following.
- In cases of alleged or actual infringement of intellectual property, including copyright issues, trademarks, and patents
- In cases of harassment, slander, and libel
- In cases of contractual violations
Example of a Cease and Desist Letter in Action
To get a better understanding of how a cease and desist letter works, we have created an example for you below. Take a look to get a better understanding of this aspect of the law.
As a business, rumors of your wrongdoing can cause significant harm to your income. So, as a business owner, you would likely want to stop a third party from spreading false allegations about you. This kind of rumor can be classed as a form of defamation, known as slander if made orally and libel if written down.
A cease and desist letter may be used in this case to demand a third party, be it a journalist at the local newspaper or another business owner at the country club, stop spreading such statements.
In your cease and desist letter, you specifically state which defamatory statements you are referring to and add the reasons why they are untrue and how you are suffering. You would also give the recipient a deadline to retract the statements before taking legal action.
If the recipient does not cease their defamatory conduct, then you would likely go on to sue them for defamation.
A cease and desist letter, in this case, could save you the cost of litigation by asking the third party to stop making false claims about your business before pursuing legal action. If they do not, the cease and desist letter may form part of the evidence within your lawsuit.
How to Write a Cease and Desist Letter
A cease and desist letter must have a few components to ensure that it is both effective and legally compliant. There may be some variation depending on the circumstances as to what must be included in your cease and desist letter. If you are unsure, don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel to ensure you get it right.
The components key to a cease and desist letter include the following.
- Sender information, including a full legal name and contact information
- Recipient information, including the same details as above
- The date on which the letter was drafted
- An introduction that positions the written notice clearly as a cease and desist letter
- Statement of the issue, including the behavior which is or is alleged to be illegal, the actions or statements in which the recipient has engaged that are of issue, and the dates, times, and locations of incidents as well as any other specifics relating to the matter
- The legal basis, i.e., for copyright infringement, the specific copyright statute or law must be cited
- A demand to cease and desist
- A time frame in which the recipient must comply with the demand and retract statements if required
- The consequences of not complying with the demand
- An optional request for a response, i.e., an acknowledgment of receipt
- Notarization, if you so choose
- Enclosures, like supporting documents, is they are necessary
- A signature from the sender
Conclusion: Cease and Desist Letters
Cease and desist letters are used in many cases regarding the law. Contrary to popular belief, they do not require the participation of a lawyer, but if you would prefer, a lawyer can be involved in the writing and sending of one.
If you are writing your own cease and desist letter, you can find many guides and templates online to support you.
Susan Noel is an experienced content writer. She is associated with many renowned business and law blogs as a guest author where she shares her valuable articles with the audience.
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