Answering a Demand Letter

Rayes / Digital Vision / Thinkstock

If you've received a demand letter, it's because someone thinks you've done something wrong and they're giving you one last warning before taking legal action.

It's better to know how to respond to this kind of letter, even if you hope the person will change his mind and not take the matter further.


How to Respond to a Demand Letter

When someone sends you a demand letter, you have some options:

  • agree to do what the person is asking and put an end to the dispute
  • contact the person(or her lawyer) to explain why you don't agree with her and to negotiate
  • contact the person (or her lawyer)to let her know that you refuse to do what you're being asked to do and to explain why 
  • do nothing and wait to be sued
  • consult a lawyer to better understand your options

Important! If you have "liability" insurance, think about contacting your insurer. You must notify the insurer quickly of any dispute that could lead to legal action being taken against you.


Things to Consider Before Answering a Demand Letter

  • Whether the claim is well-founded: Does the person really have a right to demand anything from you?

    You can refer to our articles on various legal topics to find out what legal rules apply to your situation. Otherwise, you can consult a lawyer.
  • The amount of the claim: Does what you're being asked to pay seem reasonable?

    For example, if the person is claiming $800 from you to repair a window that's worth $150, that doesn't seem very reasonable.
  • The fees to be paid: You should be aware that there are fees to be paid if you decide to go to court.

    Is it worth paying those fees, on top of being off work for time spent in court, for a conflict that involves $150? It's up to you to decide.
  • No lawyer for claims of $15,000 or less : If someone is claiming $15,000 or less from you (not including interest), it's very likely that the case will be in the Small Claims Division of the Court of Quebec.

    In that court, no one can be represented by a lawyer. But you can still ask a lawyer to give you advice before you go to court. She just can't represent you in court.
  • Other options for settling the dispute: You can use various alternative dispute resolution methods, such as negotiation, mediation, conciliation and arbitration.

    These methods allow you to come to an agreement with the person who wants to sue you without having to go to court.

If you don't know how to respond to a demand letter, a lawyer can help you.


How to Prepare to Negotiate or Go to Court

Whether you are thinking of consulting a lawyer or going it alone, here are a few tips to help you be more organized and efficient:

  • Write out all the important events of the dispute, in chronological order.
  • Gather all the documents and objects that prove that what you say is true, for example, bills, pay stubs, e-mails or a defective camera.
  • Make a note of the name and contact information of everyone who could be a witness to support your arguments.
  • If you're thinking of seeing a lawyer, write down all the questions you want to ask her.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.