Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the case of Mrs M Richards v Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust the Employment Tribunal held that the Claimant could not bring a second discrimination claim against her previous employer as the settlement agreement she had signed precluded her from doing so.

The facts in Mrs M Richards v Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust

Mrs Richards commenced employment with Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust (“the Trust”) as a Counsellor in July 2006, working at Victoria Hospital in Swindon. Mrs Richards had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, and there was medical evidence to support such a diagnosis.

In 2007 Mrs Richards issued an Employment Tribunal claim in which she raised complaints of constructive unfair dismissal and (after an amendment of claim) disability discrimination.

On 4 June 2007 COT3 settlement agreement terms were agreed, under which the sum of £12,000 was to be paid by the Trust and Mrs Richards was to withdraw her claim. The COT3 settlement agreement also specified that the settlement covered “all and any claims which the Claimant has or may have against the Respondent”, including claims under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Disability Discrimination Act; the settlement agreement also stated that it applied to, but was not limited to, those claims which had been brought within the proceedings. The claim was then withdrawn but not formally dismissed by the Employment Tribunal. At the time of the settlement agreement Mrs Richards was represented by a solicitor.

Soon after the claim was withdrawn (but not dismissed) Mrs Richards wrote to the Employment Tribunal to complain that she had made a mistake when the agreement was finalized. On 29 December 2007 Mrs Richards wrote to the Tribunal to complain that she believed that she had been tricked into the agreement and/or that she had been coerced in signing it; she alleged that she had not had capacity at the time to enter into the agreement. A preliminary hearing was listed to determine Mrs Richards’ application to challenge the validity of the settlement agreement.

Mrs Richards did not attend the preliminary hearing listed and her application was dismissed by way of a reasoned Judgment dated 28 May 2009 – the Employment Judge found that Mrs Richards had been advised and represented by a solicitor during the settlement process and that the first settlement offer had been put forward by her. The allegations that she had made regarding her being subjected to duress/fraud/misrepresentation to complete the settlement agreement were rejected, and the Tribunal found there was no evidence to support her claim that she lacked the requisite capacity to complete the agreement. Mrs Richards did not appeal that decision, nor did she seek to have it reviewed or reconsidered.

On 2 May 2016 Mrs Richards issued a further claim against the Trust, alleging that she had been unfairly dismissed and subjected to discrimination arising from disability. Mrs Richards alleged in the claim form that she had not achieved adequate redress in her initial claim and that the COT3 settlement agreement that had been achieved did not represent a fair settlement. The Trust subsequently filed its response to the claim, seeking an order for Mrs Richards’ most recent claim to be struck out.

The application to strike out was considered in a preliminary hearing

The decision of the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal held that the COT3 settlement agreement agreed between the parties in 2007 on its wording prevented the new litigation from proceeding, as it covered complaints brought under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and Equality Act 2010 (which re-enacted the relevant provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1996). The COT3 settlement agreement therefore acted as a bar to the new proceedings and should not be allowed to proceed.

Our solicitors’ view on Mrs M Richards v Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust

Chris Hadrill, the partner in the employment team at Redmans, commented on the case: “The wording for settlement agreements is crucial in determining whether new litigation can be brought or not – parties seeking to agree settlement agreements should therefore be extremely careful to ensure that the wording suits their intentions.”

The judgment of the Employment Tribunal in Mrs M Richards v Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust can be found here.

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.63 Average

30 Reviews

Anonymous

Immediate response to my initial enquiry. Very clear throughout the whole process and thorough and great communication which worked really well during quite a stressful time. Chris Hadrill was extremely helpful and made me feel at ease.

Posted 1 month ago

Nick D

I received a very professional service from Chris. The advice given really helped to leave me comfortable to sign the settlement agreement following my redundancy. Would be happy to recommend your services to others.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Excellent service from initial contact to deliverables.

Posted 2 months ago

Virginia K

Yes, Chris Hadrill answered all my questions and I feel more confident with my current situation

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Chris Hadrill was referred to me my a friend of mine. I found the service to be efficient, quick and like Chris's direct approach to my work. Well done and thank you Chris!

Posted 2 months ago

Andy W

Very prompt & structured service that helped put my mind at rest at a difficult time

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

I have found Redmans to be very helpful, diligant and thoroughly professional when dealing with them, plus they gone that extra mile for me !

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Thank you to Chris Hadrill at Redmans for his assistance in settling my case. I contacted him at the very last minute and he was happy to help me and managed to get everything done on time and in a very professional manner. I will definitely be happy to work with him again .

Posted 2 months ago

Redman's provided excellent legal employment advice for me during a difficult time in my employment. Chris was my lawyer, super efficient, quick, reliable and clearly very experienced in the matter. Could not ask for a better law firm to deal with your query if you are in need of some help. Would definitely use them again in the future. Highly recommending Chris.

Posted 6 months ago

Steven

Chris Hadrill was very professional and responsive. I would highly recommend him

Posted 6 months ago

Dinah

Very Efficient, with very quick email reply’s. I had a matter that needed resolving within a very short space of time and Redmans Solicitors were great with dealing with my matter quickly.

Posted 6 months ago

Ankar

At Redmans the solicitor that was dealing with me was Chris. He dealt with my situation smoothly with clear guidance and explanation

Posted 6 months ago

Anonymous

Clear, concise advice and guidance delivered by an experienced and very capable solicitor, within the timelines required

Posted 7 months ago

Anonymous

Very efficient service. I never had to wIt for more than a day for a reply to any of my queries and the matter was dealt with swiftly.

Posted 7 months ago

Anonymous

Very timely, thorough and helpful advice. Friendly and considerate of the needs of the client

Posted 7 months ago

Anonymous

Very prompt and attention to detail. Thank you for the service

Posted 7 months ago

Chris

Couldn’t be happier with how Redmans successfully handled our seemingly tricky case. By being clear and detailed every step of the way, with the utmost professionalism and courtesy, they made it an informative and eye-opening process, taking the stress out of the situation and ultimately delivered what you would want from such a service. I fully appreciate everything they have done, and if I am ever in need of such services in the future, they will be the first number I contact. Excellent.

Posted 7 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent work delivered with great quality

Posted 7 months ago

Dominic

Chris Hadrill was a great help both in terms of his advice and his expertise. He explained my options to me clearly and concisely enabling me to quickly make the right decision for me in the circumstance. I would not hesitate to recommend Chris or Redmans to friends or colleagues, and would certainly make Redmans my first port of call should I require a similar service in the future.

Posted 7 months ago

Kurt

Redmans gave excellent advice and helped me understand everything in clear concepts. Thank you!

Posted 7 months ago

Anonymous

Resolved my issues

Posted 7 months ago