Ethics of Demand Letters

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Long title: 
The Ethics of Demand Letters
Salyzyn, Amy
Author(s)' contact information: 
Yale Law School, USA
Conference title: 
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location: 
City University London

Lawyers regularly send demand letters as a precursor to commencing civil proceedings. In many cases, a demand letter will lead to the early resolution of a dispute and the avoidance of protracted, expensive litigation. As such, demand letters can be helpful tools that facilitate the effective administration of justice. Demand letters can also, however, be used in an abusive manner. In recent years, a certain sub-set of demand letters—civil recovery letters sent from retailers to suspected shoplifters or their parents—have come under significant public criticism. These letters are the focus of a research project that I am conducting with support of the 2013-14 OBA Foundation Chief Justice of Ontario Fellowship in Legal Ethics and Professionalism (Fellowship in Studies). This project involves an empirical study of the use of civil recovery letters in Ontario; an exploration of the arguments for and against greater regulation; and specific policy recommendations.

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