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Should I send a letter of demand?

At some point we all encounter someone who refuses to pay up, even after you cajole, annoy or threaten them. You're at your wits end, and you're ready to fire the nuclear salvo of bringing the debtor into court. But just before you press the button, you want to fire one last warning shot by issuing a letter of demand, complete with a law firm's letter head to scare the living daylights out of the other party.

Unfortunately letters of demand do not have the same impact as most people would expect. There are some situations where sending a letter of demand will not produce any substantive result:

  1. Some people ask me if letters of demand have any "legal effect". The truth is that it has very little bearing on how the case proceeds, unless the other party flips and flops on his position. Yes, getting the debtor into this situation will help paint him as an unreliable character. But even then you would not be able to leverage on this lack of reliability until trial, because the court does not want to make a premature judgment.
  2. If the other party is used to getting letters of demand, there is not much shock and awe value in a law firm's letterhead. Of course, certain firms have a certain reputation for aggression, but you have to be prepared to follow up with proceedings if you are ignored, or it just creates a situation where you cried wolf and your later actions are not going to have any effect.
  3. If the other party is simply insolvent, how can you scare more money out of him?

So sometimes I might even advise a client to skip straight to starting court proceedings, especially when time is running and there is a chance that the debtor will skip town.

Having said that, letters of demand are good for certain things:

1. Confirming that the other side can indeed be contacted at the address: very important if you need to sue him later, since you have to serve court documents on him personally. (Though different considerations would apply if you thought he might abscond!)

2. Knowing whether the other side will be fighting (represented or otherwise): if a strong response comes back, that gives you a good gauge of whether you have to spend more time and money to fight the other side in order ot get what you want. Some clients may take the view that the other side has a weak case, but that is not enough to immediately get judgment. However, that would be useful in settlement discussions, especially if there is a mediator to provide a reality check.

3. Knowing what the other side's position will likely be: the response to the letter of demand gives us lawyers some material to figure out what issues to avoid and what documents or evidence we want to rely on, if we have to fight all the way. This may help with generating time and cost estimates of having to push the case to trial for both sides, and presenting mediation as a less costly alternative.

In all, letters of demand are not necessary, nor are they sufficient. They are only one of the options available when a dispute occurs, and like any method, they must be judged by the desired outcome.

Considering sending a letter of demand? Send your questions and concerns to [email protected] or LinkedIn Message to Boon Gan Ng.



  1. 严格来说,要求信很少会直接影响法院审讯的过程或结果。即使一方想依赖对方对要求信和诉讼书的回复不一致,而让对方显得不可靠,也必须等到上庭审讯才能向法官投诉。法官也通常会避免提早做出这类的判定,于是不建议为了抹黑对方而尝试用要求信设下圈套。
  2. 如果对方不是首次与律师解除,要求信未必会有恫吓的效果。当人,某些律师楼享有的专业名誉不可否定,但很少人会马上被律师信打垮,最终还是需要当事人决定开始起诉。如果向对方做出起诉的威胁但过后缺乏实际的行动,只会让对方看轻,负面影响当事人的尊严。
  3. 石头逼不出水,口袋空的人自然付不了钱。如果对方确实缺钱,律师信不会有什么实际的影响。



1. 确定对方的地址,保证起诉时能把法庭文件转送给他。但如果对方有可能逃之夭夭,就必须避免打草惊蛇。

2. 对方的回复会显示他是否有律师代表,或打算反抗。这意味着起诉将会耗费时间、金钱。无论你认为对方的立场不踏实或毫无胜算,不代表能提早得到判书,只能在庭外和解时依赖这因素打算盘。

3. 对方的回复也多少会透露对方的立场,律师就能提前了解纠纷的关键所在,准备相关文件、证人。了解准备工作的范围之后,才能提供准确的预算,同时鼓励对方以庭外和解的方式解决纠纷。


出要求信?若有疑问,不妨同过电邮([email protected])或LinkedIn (Boon Gan Ng)联系我。

Need Help With A Legal Dispute? 需要关于解决纠纷的法律咨询?

If you have any questions relating to business dispute prevention or how to settle a business dispute in Singapore, feel free to email or drop me a LinkedIn message. I will do my best to respond within 24 hours.

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Need Help With A Legal Dispute? 需要关于解决纠纷的法律咨询?