Show Cause Notice- Meaning and Format

Show cause notice is an informal document that is issued during the disciplinary process or in the process of litigation. This document contains the details of an offence which is alleged to the person to home the notice to show cause is served. The notice is served to the person to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. In this article on show-cause notice, we will discuss the meaning of show cause notice and its format and types. 

Show cause notice

Show cause notice means a legal notice issued by the court, competent authority or any other organisation asking the individual or a group of people to explain the show cause in writing that why a disciplinary action should not be taken against them in a specific incident, offence or any wrongdoing. 

In simple words, the meaning of show cause notice can be understood as it is a notice given by one person to another person in the course of a disciplinary process. The purpose of this notice is to ask the person that why he should not face any disciplinary action against him due to the offence charged on him.

What is the meaning of show cause?

A show cause is the demand of a judge or a party against the person or another party to prove or justify why they should not punish him for an offence imposed on him.

Conditions for show cause notice

  • There should be any disciplinary process occurring.
  • A person should have alleged an offence for any wrongdoing.
  • Notice to show cause should be served.

Importance of show cause notice

Notice to show cause provides the person with the right to speak and be heard when any allegations are being imposed on him. The maxim Audi alteram partem is the principle of natural justice which gives the right to the person to be heard. Our law provides equality to every person before the law. As per the law, no person can be charged as guilty without giving him one chance to speak or prove not guilty.

Types of show cause notice

There are various situations where a person can get a show-cause notice. 


The court has the right to issue a show-cause notice during the proceedings in a case. This notice may require the person to justify or prove something in front of the judge. Normally charge order this notice when needs more information related to the case before deciding the issue in the case.  


The employer can also issue a show-cause notice to the employee for his conduct and behaviour in the company. It allows the employer to take disciplinary action according to the rules of the company if the employee failed to provide a suitable reason for his conduct. The employer of the company usually serves this notice related to serious misconduct or any matters which are related to the company. 

Notice by consumer law

If any business is bridging the consumer laws, the body that regulates the consumer laws such as NSW etc. Main service notice against bad business to explain its conduct to avoid legal action against them.

Notice related to insolvency

The regulatory bodies related to the financial securities show-cause notice to a person in a case where these regulatory bodies believe that person has reached his duties by:

  • Committee any fraud
  • Feeling to have the correct insurance

Notice in the breach of contract

In a contract in which one party has done the breach of contract, the other party may serve the notice to know why he should not break the contract.

Notice by the local council

If a landowner constructs a building that is not complying with the rules of the local authority, the local council may pass the legal notice against that landowner to show why the building should not be broken down. 

There can be many other cases in which a person can use this notice to know the cause of the person doing the wrong act.

Basic features of show cause notice

There are some basic features of show cause notice which make it specific and state forward. The features are:

  • It is cogent and state forward
  • Return in simple language and clear logic
  • Contain all the facts related to the case
  • It contains all the legal provisions related to the wrongdoing
  • There should not be any mistakes in the facts for legal provision

Drafting of show cause notice

There is no specific formula or template for a show-cause notice. There are some specific issues that must be added while drafting the notice to show cause. 

Preparation before the issuance of notice

  • Collect all the necessary material facts
  • Check all the details or loss occurred due to the misconduct
  • Read all the provisions of the act which are going to be alleged in the notice.

Simple language

The notice must be written in simple language. There should not be the use of tricky words which may confuse the defendant of the notice. 

Details of the party

This section will cover the name address and other necessary details of the party to whom notice is being served. The notice can be given to more than one party. In that case, the notice should contain details of all the persons in the dispute. 

Facts of the case

  • The body of the notice should contain all the necessary facts related to the case. 
  • If there is any specified date related to the case then the date must be written in the notice. 
  • If the information is taken from any sources, the sources should be mentioned.

Laws used in the notice

  • After laying down the facts of the case, write laws and provisions of the act which will apply to the case.
  • Link all the facts with these provisions
  • Write penalty given in the Act

Footer of notice

  • It contains the exact time within which the person should respond.
  • The consequences of ignoring the Show cause letter should be mentioned. 

These are some important points related to the Show cause letter which should be mentioned while drafting the show cause notice. 

How to respond to a show-cause notice

There is not a specific pattern to respond to the legal notice. Because the notice is different from case to case. There are a number of things that should generally be considered while responding to the show cause letter. 

Check the issue carefully

After receiving the notice you should check all the issues which are given in the notice. Check carefully whether the allegations or issues made are clear or not? If the issues are written in a way that you are unable to understand, you will not be able to give an effective response. 

Check the laws mentioned in the notice

Check all the laws carefully which are mentioned in the notice. 

Check the date of response

The legal notice always describes the date of response. After that check the consequences if you are filled to reply on time. 

Prepare for reply

After reading all the clauses, facts and laws related to the notice, start collecting the information for reply. You can take the help from a lawyer to provide an effective response to a show-cause notice. Taking advice from a lawyer is the best way to defend yourself because sometimes it happens that you may not be aware of the laws which are going to punish you.  In case you failed to prove yourself innocent, the law will be applicable against you and you may be punished or fined. In the case of employment, the employer may remove you from the job. 

Challenge the notice

After taking the advice from the lawyer, if you are clear that the notice served to you was incorrectly issued or the allegations imposed on you are incorrect, you may wish to challenge the notice. 

Notice of any action taken

If you think that the allegations imposed on you are correct, then you can take the action to remove these allegations and inform the authority that you have done something good related to these allegations. In that case, the authority can inspect the facts and steps taken by you.

For example, if you got the notice for a retaining wall which was made by you. The allegation was that the wall did not comply with the laws of the local authorities. In that case to remove these allegations you can make the necessary changes to the retaining wall. After doing necessary changes to this wall you can give notice to the local authority that you have made changes in the retaining wall. After your notice, they may re-inspect the property to confirm the actions taken by you.  

Why is show-cause notice?

Show cause letter provides the right to another person to defend himself. If we don’t allow someone to give his explanation why he should not be charged, it will be unjust. If the person fails to prove himself not guilty, the employer is free to remove him from the job. 

What will be the consequences if I do not respond to the show cause letter?

If a person fails to respond to a show-cause notice, the person can face some demon disease or penalty. Therefore the person should always notify the deadline of the notice and respond on that date. 

When is show-cause notice used?

Issue course notice is the intention of an employer to take legal or disciplinary action to guess the behaviour of an employee. In the case of employment, the employer gives the Show cause letter after the investigation and disclosure by the other party that any misconduct has been done by the employee. 

What is the object of sending legal notice?

The basic objective behind the service of Show cause letter is to display the intention of the party that they are going to initiate a legal proceeding if the party failed to prove his innocence.


The show-cause notice can be considered as the last opportunity for a person to prove him innocent. If he failed to prove his points, the person who served the notice may take legal action against that person and the person may be charged a fine for punishment. That is why it becomes both the parties to give notice and respond to notice.

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1 thought on “Show Cause Notice- Meaning and Format”

  1. After show cause notice is issued to opposite party, what are the cases he/ she can take action against notice issuers?


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