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Chris Hadrill, partner in the employment department at Redmans, examines how parties to a settlement agreement may enforce the terms of a settlement agreement if they believe that there has been a breach of the agreement

Broad principles relating to enforcement

Generally, when one party has breached a settlement agreement, the other party may:

  • Seek to enforce its terms.
  • Seek damages by bringing a breach of contract claim.

If you believe that there has been a breach of your settlement agreement you should therefore consider whether you wish to seek to enforce the terms of the agreement, or whether you wish to seek damages against the other party. In respect of both types of action you will have to consider a number of factors, including, in particular, which forum you can bring the relevant claim in.

Employment Tribunal jurisdiction to enforce a settlement agreement

An Employment Tribunal only has legal jurisdiction to consider certain contractual claims which arise out of, or are outstanding at, termination of employment. An Employment Tribunal can therefore only seek to enforce settlement agreements where the settlement agreement has been entered into either prior to the employment terminating or at the same time as the employment terminated.

If the settlement agreement was entered into post-termination then the Employment Tribunal cannot enforce the agreement; a claim for enforcement must be brought in the civil courts.

How to enforce a settlement agreement

Enforcing a settlement agreement will generally involve a consideration of the following:

  1. Has there been a breach of the settlement agreement?
  2. Is it worth litigating to enforce the settlement agreement?
  3. If so, which forum should you bring the claim in?
  4. Issue the claim in the relevant forum

Has there been a breach of the settlement agreement?

If you wish to enforce your settlement agreement then you should first determine what clauses in the settlement agreement the other party has failed to implement, as the first hurdle you will have to clear is being able to persuade the court or tribunal that, on the balance of probabilities, a relevant term of the settlement agreement has been breached.

Is it worth litigating to enforce the settlement agreement?

Once you have determined which clauses have been breached, and which you therefore wish to enforce, you should consider the importance of the breach, and the cost/benefit of further litigation to enforce the agreement.

Which forum should you bring the claim in?

Should you wish to proceed to enforce the settlement agreement then you should consider which forum you wish to try and enforce the agreement in: will it be the Employment Tribunal or civil courts? (see above).

Issue the claim in the relevant forum

Once you have identified which forum to issue the claim in you must then, should you wish to enforce the settlement agreement, bring a claim in the relevant forum.

Top 5 tips for enforcing settlement agreements

  1. Check the settlement agreement and determine whether there has been a breach of the agreement
  2. Check which forum you should bring a claim to enforce the terms of the agreement in
  3. Make a decision as to whether, objectively, it is worth litigating to enforce the settlement agreement or whether your objectives can be met by other means
  4. Obtain legal advice on your situation
  5. Look to issue a claim in the relevant tribunal, if and when necessary

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).

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The team at Redmans, Chris Hadrill and Sacha Barrett were always very helpful and had expert knowledge to assist me during my employment law matter, I would not hesitate to recommend them to all!

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Really pleased with the swift and professional service from Redmans. They provided very clear advice and helped conclude my matter with the minimum of stress or delay.

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Excellent service, prompt replies, great advice

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Very professional services

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Redmans Solicitors took a lot of the worry away and were very thoughtful and meticulous in their dealings with my case , thank you very mush , great service and a great job

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Prompt efficient service. Hourly, and part thereof, billing got a bit stressful at times - as opposed to flat fee - made me think twice about sending an email or making a quick call when I had a query because it would have eaten up minutes from my budget. But happy with the legal service I received overall and would recommend.

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Chris Hadrill has provided a truly wonderful service and was willing to lend his support and expertise at a time when other solicitors, only wanted to discuss their fees! A clear thinking and down to earth professional, Chris can be trusted to listen carefully to your matter, cut through the fog, and advise you on the best (and most realistic) way forward, saving you time, money and heartache. It will be helpful if you first get your ducks in a row in terms of documents / evidence etc. and then contact Chris, (that’s what we did) as this will help your matter to be dealt with faster. The more organised and together you are the more successful you will be. You'll be fine with Chris, I highly recommend him. Good luck!

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Very professional and thorough. Sachs who dealt with the bulk of my case was excellent Thank you. .

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I was generally impressed with the fast turn around, efficiency, responsiveness, and consideration of circumstances. I needed a couple of areas of advice quickly and with Redmans help was able to get to a conclusion quickly and with minimum stress. They were friendly and professional throughout - I'd use them again.

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The guidance and assistance I recently received when using Redman's was fantastic. Caroline & Chris were both very informative and understanding walking me through each step. Thank you.

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