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I began having conversations with a consulting firm which approached me with an offer of services. I liked the presentation and expressed willingness to look over the agreement and consider the offer. After a short time I decided it wasn't a good fit, and expressed that to the consulting firm, at which point I noticed some poignant changes in their communications with me.

  • Language in their emails went from what I'll call "business casual" to a more carefully worded tone, with word choices that left room for ambiguity when making statements, but demanded absolute answer when asking questions.

  • Appearance of what I'll call "threats by reticence" in verbal dialogue, where scenarios would be presented describing negative outcomes to our negotiations that weren't overtly threatening, but deliberately ended with phrases like "we'll see..." or "doesn't look good..."

  • And the main hint in this interaction: the consulting firm began including the same text content that was contained in the email as a signed pdf on their firm's letterhead, attached to the email. My suspicion is that this is an attempt to construct a narrative for litigation purposes, creating a paper trail outside of their company email account so that they can limit what they'd have to disclose in the discovery phase.

I don't have a lawyer, I can't afford one right now, and don't feel threatened enough to need one. But I am curious if my intuition is right. I will accept "stop watching legal drama" as a valid answer.

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    Why are you still communicating with them?
    – Dale M
    Nov 7 '20 at 11:03
  • Good question, thank you for asking. I'm not, pending the responses I get here. This week they contacted me implying I was obligated to pay a fee for services I hadn't received. My final response was sent the next day, I addressed the threatening comments, I repeated my refusal to proceed with the engagement or sign their agreement and requested that any further contact should be done by registered mail. They replied last night, and it feels like they're trying to gaslight me.
    – Nilly
    Nov 7 '20 at 11:49
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Is including the text of an email in a document attached to the same email indicative of litigious intent?

That habit in and of itself is inconclusive. Compared to the signed pdf, the other patterns you describe are much stronger indicators of the company's intent to intimidate/extort you, entangle you, and perhaps from there drag you to court. The company's conduct altogether is quite bizarre and sounds in harassment.

To avoid getting entangled by company's ambiguous communications, you might want to explicitly point out to the company that (1) hitherto there has been no legal relation between you and the company, (2) you refuse to engage in a legal relation with the company, and (3) you demand the company to cease and desist from its course of conduct.

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    Thank you very much.
    – Nilly
    Nov 7 '20 at 19:31

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