cease and desist letter before action

Cease and Desist Letter Before Action

A cease and desist letter is a formal pre-action document utilised in a wide variety of litigation matters sent to an individual or company to stop illegal activity and not to restart it.

A Cease and Desist letter may warn that if the recipient does not discontinue specified conduct, or take certain actions, by deadlines set in the letter, that party may be sued for damages or urgent injunctive relief taken.

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What is a cease and desist notice?

A cease and desist notice is a letter that requests that an individual or company to stop a specified action and refrain from doing it in the future, with a threat of legal action if the recipient fails to comply, which action would include applying to the Court for injunctive relief or damages.

In the event (for example the criminal damage or the defamatory material continues to be published), this correspondence serves as pre-action correspondence before you commence proceedings.

When can I send a cease and desist letter?

Cease and desist letters are frequently used in the below types of litigation:

  • copyright/IP infringement;
  • breach of contract;
  • ongoing trespass/nuisance;
  • criminal damage;
  • boundary disputes;
  • defamatory statements;
  • libel and slander;
  • civil harassment: where a party is subject to persistent and unwanted attention from a third party, through social media, online or by a journalist or media organisation.

Why should I send a Cease and Desist Letter?

In some cases, the sending of a cease and desist letter at the pre-action stage can often resolve the dispute, avoiding the need for potentially lengthy and costly litigation.

What should a Cease and Desist letter template contain?

A well drafted cease and desist letter will state the actions which are unlawful and steps which must be taken and, usually, what will happen if the action continues.

It is essential to seek legal advice, as a well drafted letter can ensure that the complained of behaviour ceases without litigation. Also bear in mind that any type of pre-action letter such as this is likely to be before a judge at some stage should the litigation route be taken, Therefore, it is imperative that you case is argued carefully and correctly from the outset during the pre-action stage.

Should the cease and desist letter specify a deadline for responding?

Providing the recipient with a deadline for ceasing the infringing action gives more weight to the cease and desist letter and compels the recipient to react quickly. The deadline is of course fact specific and may require a very short deadline if the act complained of is causing immediate and substantial damage.

Can I send a Cease and Desist Letter for Defamation?

Yes. Defamation is the publication of a statement about an individual or company which has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the subject’s reputation. The defamatory publication will either be a libel or a slander.

  • Libel: relates to a permanent, written publication including newspaper and magazine articles or material published online
  • Slander: relates to statements made orally.

Can I sue for Defamation if the offending party does not remove the offending publication?

Yes. The Defamation Act 2013 sets out the requirements for a claim for defamation.

The remedies include an apology, an order for removal of the defamatory content, an order to cease and desist (requiring the publisher to refrain from publishing further content) or further injunctive relief.

It is possible to sue for damages but it is important to show the defamation has caused financial loss. If successful in a claim, you may also be able to recover a proportion of your legal costs from your opponent.

Alternative claims to consider include malicious falsehood or negligent misstatement.

Cease and desist Notice to remove offending statements from a website

Where a web page contains offending statements and that page is hosted by a provider such as Google, a Notice and Take-down letter under Article 14 of the E-Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) can be sent compelling the site to remove or disable access to the offending statements expeditiously.

Following Trkulja v Google Inc [2013] EWCA Civ 68 if after a Notice and Take-down letter under Article 14 of the E-Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC), the website platform may be deemed to be liable as a publisher of the offending statements having received notification that the offending statements are false and defamatory.

if “[the online platform] allows defamatory material to remain on a blog after it has been notified of the presence of that material, it might be inferred to have associated itself with, or to have made itself responsible for, the continued presence of that material on the blog and thereby to have become a publisher of the material.”

Richards LJ, Trkulja v Google Inc [2013] EWCA Civ 68

What is an Injunction? 

An injunction is a Court order that will prohibit a party from taking a particular action which is called a prohibitory action; or may require them to take a particular action which is called a mandatory injunction. Usually the first step is to obtain an interim injunction which will usually be granted pending a further hearing or until a further hearing or until a full trial of the dispute. 

If a party breaches an injunction the party can be held in contempt of Court which in some circumstances may lead to imprisonment. 

How much does an injunction cost? 

The cost for an injunction is dependent on the circumstances and facts in the particular case. 

The level of costs will be affected by: 

  1. The urgency of the application;
  2. The number of witnesses involved in the matter; and
  3. Whether the matter is with or without notice. 

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Instruct Expert Litigation Solicitors

We​ ensure that we provide the best possible outcome for our clients by conducting in depth investigation and research into the realistic prospects of a case before selecting the appropriate course of action in order to reduce time and expense. Liability for costs is always an issue in litigation and based on our extensive litigation experience we provide our clients with as much strategic, practical as well as carefully considered legal advice in order to ensure minimum risk in respect of costs. Where appropriate we encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution (such as mediation and without prejudice negotiation) and our lawyer’s negotiation skills are first class. If early settlement at advantageous terms is not possible, we are extremely experienced and capable at navigating our clients through the litigation process.


The Limitation Act 1980 sets out strict statutory deadlines within which you must bring litigation claims. Your legal rights will become irreversibly time-barred if you fail to take legal action (or defend a claim on time). Therefore, you should seek specific legal advice about your legal dispute at the very first opportunity so that you understand the time you have left. Failure to take advice or delay in taking action can be fatal to your prospects of success.