A woman with a somber expression sits on a couch and opens a letter.

Negotiation & Conflict Resolution: Which Legal Letter Gets Your Point Across

Last Updated: October 12, 2023

Written by

Reviewed by


Fact checked by

Key Takeaways:

  • Sending legal letters can help clarify intentions and prevent unnecessary litigation.
  • A Letter of Intent (LOI) is a useful tool for starting negotiations because it gives the parties information and time to consider a deal.
  • A Demand Letter serves as a final reminder when someone breaches a contract, outlines potential consequences, and provides evidence for legal action.
  • A Cease and Desist Letter warns of potential legal action and requests a stop to specific actions. This is an opportunity to resolve conflicts before resorting to a lawsuit.

Keeping matters under control and out of court is essential to saving you time and money.
If you need to make your intentions clear to someone, the best way is to send a legal letter. A formal document lets people know how serious you are about the business you’re doing with them.
Here’s how you can use a Letter of Intent, a Demand Letter, and a Cease and Desist Letter to communicate clearly and avoid unnecessary litigation.

How to start a negotiation

You can send a Letter of Intent (LOI) to show your honest and sincere intention to engage in good-faith negotiations.
This document sets up a framework for future contract terms and conditions. This way, you can prove your offer is genuine and easily launch into a discussion that seals the deal. For instance, this letter works well when making large transactions involving:
  • Manufactured goods
  • Contracted services
  • Business shares
  • Real estate
An LOI also works well when suggesting a partnership or negotiating commercial lease terms. That’s because—no matter what type of business you’re conducting—it’s important to do your due diligence before finalizing an agreement with a legal contract.
Due diligence means preparing and doing research before making an informed decision. A Letter of Intent helps with that by providing a framework for investigations and giving the time to perform them.
In sum, an LOI gives you:
  • The chance to make your intentions known
  • The time to investigate all aspects of a deal
  • The option to back out if things don’t go as planned
That’s why a Letter of Intent is useful for starting negotiations. You get your foot in the door ahead of other interested parties by proposing terms that are open to change.
Then, once you get to talking, you can ask detailed questions that the other person might’ve been reluctant to answer if they didn’t know your level of commitment.
If neither of you is satisfied with the proposed contract terms, you can change your mind without any legal repercussions.

How to demand action

When someone fails to fulfill their role in a contract, you can send a Demand Letter as a final reminder that they need to take action or face serious consequences.
This letter communicates exactly how they breached their contract and what they need to do to avoid a lawsuit. (Keep in mind that your threat of legal action cannot be a wrongful use of force or fear.)
Further, if the issue does escalate to court, the letter provides evidence to support your case. The key is to attach any relevant documents (e.g., signed contracts, proof of debt, or photos) to the Demand Letter to reinforce your argument.
That being said, you can be open to compromise. If you’re collecting a debt, for example, you could outline a settlement agreement in which the debtor pays you a lesser amount or the total in installments.
In any case, using a strongly worded letter to send a message might be the push someone needs to get something done.

How to send a cease and desist

Like a Demand Letter, a Cease and Desist is a legal letter that warns an individual of your intent to sue. But instead of demanding someone comply with a contract, this letter requests someone refrain from doing something.
A Cease and Desist Letter can apply even without a pre-existing legal agreement. Typically, a person would send this letter to stop someone from infringing on their rights.
A Cease and Desist carries weight because it directly calls a person out for their misbehavior and outlines the litigation that could follow.
For example, you might need someone to stop threatening behavior such as stalking, cyberbullying, or online impersonation. In such cases, legal remedies might include a restraining order or an injunction to cease and desist. The court could also order the offending party to pay for any medical bills you incur or income you lose as a result of the harassment.
However, it’s important to remember that you can’t take someone to court over matters that aren’t governed by civil or criminal law. Plus, you’ll have to prove the extent of damage caused by their actions.
Still, by sending a Cease and Desist Letter, you have the opportunity to resolve the conflict before escalating it to a lawsuit.

Communicating to make deals and manage conflict

One thing’s for sure: litigation is costly and time-consuming. The easiest option is to resolve the issue yourself.
If sending one of these letters doesn’t give you the results you need, the best way to avoid a lawsuit is to try alternative dispute resolution.
You can ask a lawyer for advice online, then try to negotiate with the person further. From there, you can decide if a lawsuit is the best course of action.