Very often, the letters will state to respond within x days from the date of letter. Are there any regulations for law firms, banks or credit companies to provide a reasonable window of time for recipients to take action?

For instance, if the letter dated 28 Feb(Fri) and requires the recipient to respond within 3 days from the date of letter, is this considered valid?

And also, if a legal letter has a typo on the contact number for recipient to reach out, is the letter still considered valid?

Examples on the types of letters:

a. demand letter.
b. writ of summon.
c. Letters of objection / challenging or contesting a determination
d. settlement offers
e. Cease and desist letters

p/s: I don't know what is the appropriate tag for the question, please edit as needed.

  • Note also the distinction between calendar days and business days.
    – PJB
    Jan 3 at 14:57

3 Answers 3


Depends on the context

Statutory timeframes

Certain documents, like a Statement of Claim or an Adjudication Application, set very strict timeframes in motion by their receipt and there are real legal consequences if they are not responded to within a statutorily mandated period. For the former, failure to respond may result in a default judgement and, for the latter, it prohibits the adjudicator from considering a response.

In such circumstances, the statute will set out the notice period.

Contractural timeframes

The document may be initiating an action where there are timeframes spelled out in a pre-existing contract. For example, what’s commonly called a “show cause notice” is a notice from one party to the other that they are invoking a contractural term that requires them to give the other party the opportunity to respond, that is, to “show cause”, why they should’t do something the contract then allows - like terminating it.

In such circumstances, the contract will set out the notice period or, if the contract is silent, then a reasonable notice period is required - see below.

Reasonable notice

It is inherent in contracts, but also a feature of the law more generally, that when a specific notice period is not given, reasonable notice is required.

What is reasonable depends on all the circumstances including the ability of the recipient to respond, the severity of the consequence of not responding, and the urgency of the issue. For example, a reasonable time to respond to an eviction notice will be longer than that required to respond to remove your vehicle that is blocking a fire escape - particularly if the building is presently on fire.

Date of the notice or date of receipt?

When measuring all these times, the question might arise as to whether they are from the date printed on the notice, the date the notice is delivered (or, in legal speak, served), or the date that it comes to the attention of the recipient.

Again, that will depend on the circumstances and a statute or contract may measure time from any of those things. They may also have deemed receipt, that is, receipt has legally occurred even if it hasn’t factually occurred. For example, receipt may be in the ordinary course of mail for a posted letter - so for a letter posted by Express Mail, the next business day after postage even if the Post Office loses it.

Any or all of these may be subject to their own measures of reasonableness. For example, even if the time is measured from the date on the notice, this would not be reasonable if the sending party waited 2 weeks before sending it. Similarly, if the recipient can demonstrate that they spent the last 6 months in a coma, it might not be reasonable to sanction them for failing to respond.

The legal art of service, deemed or otherwise, is a whole subsection of law in itself.

  • 3
    Reasonable time frame to respond to your car blocking a fire access in Germany ist literally: thank you for parking there, you have untill the tow truck or fire department arrive, then your car ist gone or will be trashed by a fire engine ramming it out of the was without mercy. And giving you a prime role in court case as defendant because you violated traffic law.
    – Trish
    Jan 2 at 10:29

if the letter dated 28 Feb(Fri) and requires the recipient to respond within 3 days from the date of letter, is this considered valid?

Depends on what the letter is about.

Generally, the recipient never has to respond. However, in certain circumstances, if they do not respond, it will simply reinforce the sender's stance in court should they proceed with a lawsuit.

For example, if Rob owes money to Bob, there will often be requirements for Bob to deliver demand letter(s) to Rob in a certain fashion and wait for his response a certain amount of days before Bob could go ahead with a lawsuit.

That said, the recipient's need to respond as the sender demands is a call they should make (with the help of a lawyer if they're not sure) — carefully assessing whether the sender bluffs to some extent (which lawyers sending demand letters opportunistically often do), or whether the recipient would indeed weaken their defence stance in court by not responding.


I don't know about others, but credit agencies often claim you have all kinds of deadlines that aren't true. You can safely ignore any claim a credit agency makes, since they are probably lying.

But you can't simply ignore them if you want the problem to go away. Eventually they will seek a judgement against you, which will force you to pay (i.e. when you sell property, or garnish wages, etc).

If you get that far and actually want to appear in court to challenge a judgement and are going to argue you didn't know about the debt collection attempts, it's opaque, legally, when a judge would believe when you reasonably knew about the debt collection attempts.

It's really too late for you at that point anyway. What's important in debt collection (with a debt that you do not intend to pay) is your communications to them and their response. If I remember right, as soon as you know you send a letter recognizing that they are attempting to collect a debt against you and you are challenging it's validity. You ask them to remove any hits on your credit reports and verify to you the original creditor and the amount. They have 30 days to comply and respond or they forfeit the claim. Use certified mail and request the same for their replies, and those dates are valid in court.

  • 2
    This needs a jurisdiction tag. The line "They have 30 days to comply and respond or they forfeit the claim" is nonsense in England and Wales, and it feels unlikely to be true in all the US states. Jan 3 at 13:18
  • @MartinBonnersupportsMonica It's applicable to all US states per the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). There's other details, but the question is just about letter deadlines.
    – user608
    Jan 3 at 15:56
  • I didn't notice that the question is tagged england-and-wales. What's site policy? Should I delete?
    – user608
    Jan 3 at 15:57
  • @MartinBonner I'm reading around about UK debt collection laws and finding that they have roughly the same requirements, needing to provide a copy of the original credit agreement and without doing so they cannot seek a judgement, and I did find a mention of 12 working days, but that it's pragmatically not as useful as the FDCPA of the USA allows with it's 30 days. My point is that it's actually very similar, so your declaration of "nonsense" is off base.
    – user608
    Jan 3 at 18:46
  • Site policy is that answers for other jurisdictions are allowed, but should be tagged as such. Jan 4 at 5:22

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