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How to write a cease & desist letter for slander

Updated February 17, 2017

Slander can be hurtful and embarrassing. Unfortunately, it is also very difficult to take to court because the burden of proof is on you to show that slander occurred, and that it was harmful to your reputation. In addition, court actions to stop slander usually make matters worse by spreading the untruth even further with the publicity surrounding the case. However, the slander often will stop with a cease and desist letter to the offending party, because the letter lets them know that you take the matter seriously and that you are prepared to take them to court if necessary.

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  1. Hire a lawyer. If you are going as far as to threaten legal action, you need to show that you are serious. A letter without a lawyer's backing might not be taken as seriously.

  2. Begin the letter by typing your address without your name. Skip a space, and then type the date.

  3. Skip another space. Type the recipient's name and address.

  4. Type "Mr./Ms. (name):" There is no need to type "Dear" in this instance.

  5. Begin the letter by stating the facts; what specifically was said, to whom it was said, and how you know about it. Explain that this information is false and ask him to stop. Inform him that you will take legal action if he does not cease spreading this information.

  6. Write a closing paragraph that states that you will consider the matter closed if he does not discuss the matter any further with anyone else other than your lawyer. Provide the lawyer's contact information.

  7. Close the letter by typing "Sincerely," skip three line spaces and type your name. Print the letter, and sign above your name.

  8. Give the letter to your lawyer. She will need to check it for compliance for local and state laws. When the lawyer approves the letter, make copies and send the original via certified mail to the defendant. Give a copy of the letter to your lawyer and retain a copy for your records.

  9. Wait for a response. If the defendant continues spreading the rumours, be prepared to follow up with your threats for legal action.

  10. Warning

    Take care to maintain a factual, emotionally neutral tone in your letter. An angry letter will hurt your credibility in court.

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About the Author

Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.

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