If you feel someone else is violating your rights, and you want them to stop, you should consider sending them a Cease and Desist Letter. Such letters can be an effective and affordable solution to get someone to quickly stop their offenses. If, on the other hand, you’ve received a Cease and Desist Letter, you need to know how to respond appropriately. We address both these topics – what to do to send someone else a Cease and Desist Letter, and how best to respond if you’re on the receiving end of such a letter.
In this guide, we’ll explain:
- What is a Cease and Desist letter?
- What scenarios are Cease and Desist Letters used in?
- When to send a Cease and Desist letter?
- What information should a Cease and Desist letter contain?
- How should a Cease and Desist letter be delivered?
- What happens after sending a Cease and Desist letter?
- How should I respond if I receive a Cease and Desist letter?
- How can I protect myself from Cease and Desist letters?
What is a Cease and Desist Letter?
A cease and desist letter is a legal demand for someone to stop doing something. For instance, if a business is using logos, or selling products that infringe on your copyright, you can send them a cease and desist letter. Your cease and desist letter will demand that they refrain from using branding and providing products whose copyright belongs to you only. The cease and desist letter will inform them that if they don’t stop doing this, you can take them to task in Court.
Cease and desist letters are very similar to a Letter of Demand. The main difference is that a cease and desist letter is a demand to stop doing something, whereas a letter of demand usually is a demand for the other party to pay you a sum of money that’s owed.
What scenarios are Cease and Desist Letters used in?
You can send cease and desist letters if another party is infringing upon your rights, and you need them to stop doing so.
Some common every day examples where Cease and Desist Letters are used:
Breach of contract:
Another party signs a contract with you, and is breaching certain terms of the contract. For instance, the other party is only allowed to work exclusively on your project, but you discover that they are actually taking on more jobs.
Copyright violation/IP infringement:
Companies selling products that potentially infringe upon your copyright.
A neighbour or someone else repeatedly trespassing onto your property (e.g. house, shop, office, etc.).
When do you send a Cease and Desist Letter?
Cease and desist letters are the first step in legal proceedings. Typically, you don’t want to just jump straight into a lawsuit. Lawsuits are very expensive and time-consuming. Sending a cease and desist letter first allows you the chance to settle disputes amicably. If you have a disagreement with another party and want them to stop pursuing a certain course of action, send them a cease and desist letter first. Monitor their response. If they agree with your terms and stop violating your rights, then you will have your dispute resolved fairly quickly and cost-efficiently. If they still persist in what they’re doing, then you can consider escalating the dispute into Court.
Another advantage you may have by sending a cease and desist letter is the chance to view the other party’s legal defence. This can provide you with valuable information about what facts and arguments they are relying on. This can allow you to better prepare for the lawsuit, if you decide to pursue one.
What information should a Cease and Desist Letter contain?
Generally, a Cease and Desist Letter should state at least the following:
- Information of the person/organisation sending the cease and desist letter, so that the recipient or their lawyers can send their reply to the correct person
- Recipient’s details – must have their correct name and address
- Description of the offense: e.g. copyright violation, property trespass, defamation, etc.
- Demand to stop (i.e. cease and desist) the offense
- Evidence and legal grounds for this demand: e.g. copyright or patents filed by you, deed proving ownership of property and CCTV footage of trespass, screenshots of defamatory remarks, etc.
- Description of legal consequences for not complying with the cease and desist demand – e.g. escalation to lawsuit.
- Statement explicitly reserving your legal rights, e.g. your right to claim damages later on even if the offending party complies with the cease and desist demand.
How to send a Cease and Desist Letter?
You can either email the cease and desist letter, or send it by post. If you send it by post, it’s best to send it by courier as that requires a signature, which proves that the offending party has received your letter. If courier services are too expensive, a less ideal but still acceptable option is to send it by registered post.
What happens after sending a Cease and Desist letter?
Give the recipient a few days. If they ignore your letter and they continue to commit the offenses against you, then you’ll need to consider initiating a lawsuit. To initiate a lawsuit, you’ll have to file for a Writ of Summons with the Court. Call up a lawyer to advise you on this – they’ll be able to tell you the strength of your case, how much it will cost, and whether it’s worth suing someone (or pursuing another route, like mediation) to resolve your dispute.
If you have made specific threats in your letter, it is generally advisable to take steps towards carrying out those threats but you need not do so. Be aware however, that if you do not carry out any threats you have made, the offending party is likely to interpret this as either your surrender, a lack of credibility on your part or just weakness more generally, and the offending activity may well continue.
How should I respond if I receive a Cease and Desist letter?
If you run a business, and you have lawsuit insurance (e.g. Professional Indemnity Insurance), then call your insurance broker or insurance company immediately. They will assist you ASAP to initiate a legal defence. Legal costs for a valid claim will be covered by the insurance company, so you don’t pay anything.
If you run a business but don’t have lawsuit insurance, or you’re an individual, call up a lawyer. You’ll have to pay the lawyer out of your own pocket, of course.
You can also choose to comply with the demands of the cease and desist letter, if you feel it’s reasonable. Of course, such letters often may not make fair demands upon you, so simply bending over and complying may not be a feasible option. The one thing you should never do is simply ignore the letter. Make sure you get legal advice, or else you could face an expensive and stressful lawsuit. For more information about mounting a legal defense, read our comprehensive guide on 9 steps to defend a lawsuit in Singapore.
How can I protect myself from Cease and Desist letters?
As mentioned above, Professional Indemnity Insurance is the best way to protect your business if you were to receive a cease and desist letter. Business-related lawsuits are common in Singapore. Professional Indemnity Insurance covers a wide range of lawsuits, like negligence lawsuits, breach of confidentiality lawsuits, errors & omissions lawsuits, defamation lawsuits, and much more.
The best thing about Provide’s Professional Indemnity Insurance is that we are the first in Singapore to offer you a zero-deductible option. A deductible is the amount you have to pay first for a claim. The typical deductible is $10,000 to $20,000. If you choose the zero-deductible option, you won’t have to pay anything out-of-pocket!