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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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    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.

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    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.

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    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

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    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!

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    Anonymous

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

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    Anonymous

    Very quick and professional service , Rana was very helpful

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

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    Pravina P

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

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    Paul L

    Sacha was extremely helpful in my matter. I would not hesitate you use Sacha or Redmonds again. Everyone was very helpful.

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    Monique N

    I had Mel Chin helping me with a settlement and she was very professional and reliable throughout my case. Mel provided me with a good understanding of what was happening and gave suggestions on routes I could take. My case was resolved and closed promptly although the opposing side were very difficult to deal with. A very big thank you to Mel and Chris.

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    Jackie C

    My first ever experience needing the services of a solicitor; cannot speak highly enough of Mel and Chris’s personable, reassuring and straight to the point advice in dealing with my settlement agreement. They put me at ease during an extremely stressful time. I am equally as happy with the outcome, as l am their professional services.

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    Really happy with the service. All very efficient. Mel rattled through things very fast, however was great whenever I needed to stop and ask a question! Would definitely return to Redmans if I ever needed Legal advice.

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    Peter F

    Very helpful and clear advice, would highly recommend.

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