How to Write a Cease & Desist Letter for Libel
Rumours are being spread about you and everyone at your workplace knows; few situations are more embarrassing than hearing tall tales about yourself from a third party.
If those stories are spread via writing, such as in the case of an e-mail, public Internet posting or a letter, and they are meant to damage your reputation, they are libel. The first step in forcing someone to stop their libellous statements is to write a cease and desist letter.
Consult a lawyer before you begin. She may ask you to write the details of the libel, such as the specific incidents and statements. From there, she may want to write the letter, or she may ask you to write the letter and then check it for legal issues.
Begin the letter by typing your address. Skip a line space, and type the date. Skip an additional line space and type the recipient's name and address on separate lines. Skip another line space, and type "Dear Mr./Ms. (Last name)" followed by a colon.
- Rumours are being spread about you and everyone at your workplace knows; few situations are more embarrassing than hearing tall tales about yourself from a third party.
- Begin the letter by typing your address.
State that the purpose of the letter is to demand that the recipient immediately ceases and desists his libellous comments. State that his comments are untrue and designed to injure your reputation. If you are demanding that the recipient retracts the comments, tell him how you would like that retraction to be published, such as on the company notice board or in the newspaper.
Give specific details about the comments, including quotes taken from the writing, as well as the days the writing appeared, to whom it was addressed, and where the comments appeared if they were online or publicly viewable. If the recipient of the letter wrote many comments, list only a few of the most damaging.
Detail the times you have previously tried to request the letter recipient stop making her libellous comments. You need to document those in the letter in case you need to take the matter to court.
- State that the purpose of the letter is to demand that the recipient immediately ceases and desists his libellous comments.
- If you are demanding that the recipient retracts the comments, tell him how you would like that retraction to be published, such as on the company notice board or in the newspaper.
Make a final demand that the reader ceases his untrue and damaging comments. Tell him what you are prepared to do if he does not stop immediately, such as take him to court, and be prepared to follow through with the threat.
Close the letter by typing "Sincerely," and skip three line spaces. Print the letter and sign your name above the typed name.
Mail the letter with signature confirmation so you have evidence that the reader received the letter. Or, if your lawyer needs to check the letter or rewrite it herself in the correct legal language, she will deliver it or have the recipient served with the notice.
- Use a firm, matter of fact tone. Do not attack the reader or make any potentially libellous comments yourself, or you will hurt your credibility.
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.