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  • Writer's pictureDavid Manes

The power of the demand letter

Oftentimes when a person feels wronged they do not know what to do. Perhaps you had a spoken agreement with your painter to pay him and have him do the work, but after you paid him, he never showed up.  Maybe your boss fired you and refused to pay you the money you were owed for your last two weeks of work. Whatever your dispute is, you may be able to settle it out of court. Enter the power of the demand letter. It is a lawyer’s first tool in righting a wrong, and if used effectively, it can settle a dispute out of court.

What is a demand letter?

It is basically a letter to the party that owes you money asking for the money to be paid and laying out your reasons for asking for the money.

What should I put in a demand letter?

First you should give a brief history of how the dispute began and explain why there has been no agreement so far. While your opponent may know exactly what happened, a judge might end up reading the letter, thus you need to explain for a broader audience.

Next, you should be concise and specific about what you want. So if it is monetary, include the specific amount that you would want.

Third give a deadline for how long they have to respond. Don’t make the deadline too far away; as they will be able to procrastinate, but give them enough time to think about the demand.

Lastly, let them know that if you do not receive an offer that you think is fair you will file in small claims court.

What not to do in a demand letter?

Do not be overly harsh, impolite or threatening. Remember, this letter could end up being read aloud in court by a judge. Also, if you are too harsh the other side may be offended and decide to reply in an equally harsh manner.

How to add extra weight to the letter

To add extra weight to the letter hire an attorney to do it. This will let the other party know that you are serious and it will ensure that the letter is well written and professional.


Sometimes in a dispute a person may not know what to do. Oftentimes a demand letter, laying out your reasons for asking for the money can be the first step in resolving your dispute out of court. If you think that the other party may not take it seriously, hire an attorney to add extra weight to the claim. For more information, contact a local attorney who can help you craft an effective demand.

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