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 The claim was then withdrawn but not formally dismissed by the Employment Tribunal.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Soon after the claim was withdrawn (but not dismissed) Mrs Richards wrote to the Employment Tribunal to complain that she had made a mistake when the agreement was finalized.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 first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Testimonials

    4.80 Average

    330 Reviews

    Arabella B

    I am so grateful to Caroline Lewis at Redmans Solicitor’s for helping me with my Unfair Dismissal Case. I was seriously impressed how easy Redmans made the whole case, and am very happy with my Settlement. I have recommended your firm to at least 5 people in the last 3 months.. Thank you Caroline and everyone at Redmans. You are Brilliant .

    Posted 7 hours ago

    Anonymous

    Highly professional and efficient service.

    Posted 12 hours ago

    Tanya T

    I had the pleasure of Chris and Sacha’s experience with a work matter. They made me feel at ease with the process and explained everything thoroughly. Would happily recommend Redmans especially Chris and use them if needed I’m the future. Thank you!

    Posted 13 hours ago

    Anonymous

    I used the services of Redmans solicitors and was a quick outstanding service I engaged them in a settlement agreement after been made redundant extremely professional at all that was done and would definetly use them again

    Posted 14 hours ago

    Adrian A

    Spot on support, enough to get the matter at hand sorted. No beating around the bush, no nonsense - got the job done and we all moved on.

    Posted 14 hours ago

    Mark Q

    Five Stars I was most impressed by the attention, courtesy, speed and above all, professionalism in dealing with my Settlement Agreement. I would certainly have no problem in recommending this firm to anyone in need of their services.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Ade A

    I was surprisingly impressed by how Redmans Solicitors handle my case. From the moment I call them to the absolute end of my case, they always look after my best interest.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Malcolm P

    they were there when others were not

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service all the way through from start to finish. Really great support and guidance from the team, they secured the offer that I wanted. I can't recommend Redmans highly enough and will be sure to use their services again should the need arise.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Efficient and quick service!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Karen B

    Quick response very helpful Issue raised dealt with very quickly

    Posted 1 month ago

    Carmen T

    Redmans give Great service and advice on reading contracts. They can explain all the solicitors jargon into words that you can understand. I received excellent service an I will use them again and again.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Very grateful for Mel’s efforts in handling my case from start to finish which I would have found very stressful without it. She was very professional, friendly and we had a positive outcome. Highly recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Nalin W

    Mel Chin was my Legal Executive when I engaged the services of Redmans Solicitors to help with a redundancy matter. She was incredibly approachable and professional from start to finish. Specially I have to mention regarding prompt reply to all my email queries, It was super quick. I would thoroughly recommend Mel Chin. Many Thanks

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    I'd highly recommend Redmans Solicitors. Mel was very helpful and assisted me throughout my case.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Sacha was very thorough and very helpful, with great advice on when to act and when to wait on my case.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    I have been very pleased with the support I got from Redmans Solicitors on my case with my employer. Caroline has always helped me to put things in perspective and showed me different scenarios ultimately to help me taking the right decision. She was very professional and always available when I needed, and at the same time also emphatic which I found also really important to establish a strong relationship. Will definitely recommend!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Prompt and efficient response to my enquiries. Excellent negotiating skills with my employer which considerably improved the terms of my settlement agreement.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Very quick and professional service , Rana was very helpful

    Posted 2 months ago

    James G

    Very professional, knowledgeable and kept me informed at every stage of my case. I would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Pravina P

    Chris was really good and help solve my issues with current company. I would recommend him to anyone.

    Posted 3 months ago