Reality checkWhat is the purpose of a letter of demand? And what is the intent of the sender?

The judicial nature versus the practical application of a letter of demand is discussed in the Journal for Juridical Science1.

“The primary purpose of addressing a letter of demand …is to persuade the other party to settle the dispute without resorting to litigation. Litigation is expensive and time-consuming. Often a dispute can be settled by simply sending a letter of demand.”

If the letter of demand doesn’t reach the recipient through a channel used by the general public, then it will not achieve the primary purpose of settling the dispute in one way or another.

“The obvious point must be made: just because a letter of demand is sent by registered mail does not guarantee that the addressee will receive and read the letter. The post office of the district where the addressee resides will send a notice to the addressee requesting that he or she collects the registered letter from the post office. However, as it is often the case, people do not collect their registered mail.”

There is no legal requirement for the recipient to collect the letter from their Post Office. If the sender wants to introduce legal action, then all they have to do is show that the registered letter was sent.

But merely sending the letter does nothing to achieve the required objective of settling the dispute. The recipient can only respond once the letter has been brought to their attention in an effective manner, via a channel that is convenient for both the sender and recipient.

Since the purpose of a letter of demand is to inform the defendant of intended proceedings with a view to settlement of the dispute without resorting to litigation, it is prudent to send a letter of demand digitally, either by Registered EmailTM and/or Registered SMSTM. There is a lot of empirical evidence supporting the benefits of the digital transmission of letters of demand and the ability for these notices to be read by the recipients, ultimately achieving the desired engagement.


1 M. Paleker, Letters of demand (interpellatio extraiudicalis): substance and form Journal for Juridical Science: Vol. 30 No. 1 (2005)