In the case of Mr Clayton De Beauville v Hertsmere Borough Council: 3303561/2019 the Employment Tribunal denied the Claimant’s challenge to the terms of the settlement agreement that he signed, and also awarded £2,000 in costs against the Claimant.
The facts in Clayton De Beauville v Hertsmere Borough Council
Mr Clayton de Beauville (“the Claimant”) was employed by Hertsmere Borough Council (“the Respondent”) from August 2008 as a research monitoring officer, and his employment terminated on 31 January 2019.
Prior to the termination of the Claimant’s employment, in December 2017, he signed a settlement agreement with the Respondent. The relevant terms of the settlement agreement were as follows:
- That the Claimant’s employment would terminate on 31 January 2019
- That the parties were agreeing to settle in full and final settlement any claims that the claimant could have arising out of his employment and the mutually-agreed termination of his employment;
- That the Claimant would be paid three separate sums of money as consideration for entering into the agreement: 1) a £1,100 contribution towards travel expenses; 2) £6,500 towards tuition fees; and 3) £13,500 as compensation for termination of his employment;
- The Claimant agreed to withdraw various grievances and requests for information that he had made to the Respondent; and
- An ‘entire agreement’ clause (i.e. a clause confirming that the terms of the settlement agreement constituted all of the terms that could be relied upon by the parties)
The Claimant received independent legal advice from a lawyer prior to his signing the agreement.
After the termination of his employment the Claimant alleged that he had also been promised a sum of £64,000 by the Respondent or the ability to cancel the settlement agreement. The Respondent contested this.
The Claimant subsequently brought claims in the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal, age discrimination, and breach of contract. The Respondent applied to strike these claims out on the basis that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to hear the claims (as a settlement agreement has been agreed).
The decision of the Employment Tribunal
The Employment Tribunal dismissed the Claimant’s claims on the basis that the Claimant had expressly agreed to waive the claims when entering into the settlement agreement – the ‘entire agreement’ clause in the settlement agreement expressly precluded him from making the arguments that he was advancing.
The Employment Tribunal also dismissed the Respondent’s counter-claim for return of the £7,600 tuition and subsistence fees paid to the Claimant (on the basis that the Claimant had breached his settlement agreement by bringing his claims in the Employment Tribunal) – the Tribunal concluded that the relevant clauses were penalty clauses and therefore unenforceable.
The Employment Tribunal also awarded the Respondent £2,000 in costs, on the basis that the Claimant’s claims did not have reasonable prospects of success.
Our solicitors’ comments on Clayton De Beauville v Hertsmere Borough Council
Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This case shows that, where ‘entire agreement clauses’ are drafted into settlement agreements it will be difficult to argue that other written or verbal agreements influence the terms of the settlement agreement..”
The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Mr Clayton De Beauville v Hertsmere Borough Council: 3303561/2019 can be found here.