Thanks Mridula for sharing your query: "What is the difference between sending a legal notice and filing a court case. And if I send a legal notice to someone (no I am not sending one but who knows in future) am I obliged to fight a court case too?"
You have a great dinner party at a restaurant called Golden Dragon and you find yourself and everyonelse throwing up, hospitalized due to food poisoning and of course, you are livid. You can send a legal notice through a lawyer.
Purpose of Legal Notice: An Example
The purpose of the legal notice is to inform Golden Dragon about the disputed issue that has caused you tremendous difficulty and measure it with a specific compensation that you seek to settle the dispute. In this case, lets call it chronic food poisoning. Your legal notice will state facts and ask Golden Dragon for an apology (if you want) and the amount of compensation. Once Golden Dragon receives the legal notice, they can respond to it with their statement. If the dispute is not settled to your satisfaction, your lawyer can file a case in court by producing a copy of the legal notice, the reply to it and your filing for compensation.
Purpose is to Inform the Other Party
To answer your question, a legal notice is your first step to inform the other party about a dispute that has arisen through a chronological statement of facts. This enables the other party to agree, disagree or respond to your allegations in writing. It also gives both parties an opportunity to understand the dispute, the laws in question and see if an amicable settlement can be reached without the matter reaching the courts.
And yes, to answer the second part of your question, once you have filed a case in court as per procedure, you have to fight it till the end. You can settle it in between if both parties agree to resolve the issue but if you file a suit and you don't fight it, that is tantamount to wasting the precious time of the court and misusing the procedures of law.
Feel free to share your thoughts and queries.