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The Law Society has published guidance confirming that solicitors involved in drafting ‘non-disclosure agreements’ (“NDAs”) within employment settlement agreements (also known as ‘severance agreements’) must take into account the public interest if there is a conflict of principles.

The new guidance entitled “Non-disclosure Agreements and Confidentiality Clauses in an Employment Context” confirms that when drafting settlement agreements solicitors should, when taking instructions from clients and drafting the agreements, consider wider public policy issues of public interest if the agreement intends to prevent an employee from disclosing sensitive information (such as, for example, allegations of sexual harassment).

The publication of the guidance follows the controversy that emerged last year regarding firms of solicitors drafting settlement agreements that prevented the relevant employee from disclosing to third parties that they had been sexually harassed at work. It follows on from SRA guidance published last year warning solicitors about potential breaches of the SRA Code of Conduct that could result from failing to suitably take into account the public interest when drafting settlement agreements.

The Law Society’s guidance reminds solicitors that, when drafting settlement agreements, whether for the firm or for a client, they should consider whether any confidentiality clauses in the agreement are ‘appropriate and lawful’ clauses seeking to protect trade secrets or prevent the details of a dispute being made public or, alternatively, whether it seeks to prevent the employee from disclosing an ‘unlawful act’.

The guidance also confirms that “‘It is unlikely to be legitimate to ask a person to sign a [settlement agreement] in which they agree not to disclose an unlawful act that has not yet happened, as the chances of such an agreement being legally enforceable are slim.”

What is a settlement agreement? Our solicitors explain.

Chris Hadrill, the partner in the employment department at Redmans, commented on the guidance: “Confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements serve an important purpose, in that they essentially ‘put a lid’ on the facts and circumstances of a potential or existing dispute between an employer and an employer. Although this guidance is welcome, the Employment Rights Act 1996 already prevents employers from seeking to ‘gag’ employees from disclosing certain types of behaviour in the workplace to the authorities, to their lawyer, or direct to the employer.”

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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Anonymous

efficient, responsive and effective

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Andrew B

Very good service

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Anonymous

Excellent service, compassionate and a good outcome

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Anonymous

I had an employment issue which required legal advice. Chris was very supportive and knowledgeable, resulting in an optimum resolution in my favour. Would definitely recommend.

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David M

Very professional and first-rate advice. I would use again. With thanks,

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Anonymous

Got the job done swiftly without going too much in to detail.

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Derek W

Redmans dealt with my case very efficiently and I was happy with the outcome.

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Anonymous

Timely professional advice!

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Anonymous

Very good service

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

I was in contact with Chris and then worked with Caroline on an employment matter. I was very pleased with the service and professionalism throughout, and came away with satisfied with the outcome. Would happily recommend.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Nikki

Received advice re employment law. Chris was very helpful and advised accordingly. Would happily recommend them and if ever I need help again, will not think twice before using them.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Samantha K

Absolutely brilliant thank you. Caroline Lewis is a legend

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

The legal advice was clear and helpful.

Posted 2 months ago

Davinder P

Good Service

Posted 2 months ago

Adrian V

I was using Redmans services for a Settlement Agreement. Very quick and professional service. The outcome was favourable and I was very pleased with the amendments and results. Pretty glad to recommend them for any type of legal advice.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very responsive, efficient, clear and supportive. Thank you! Highly recommend.

Posted 2 months ago

Tiago S

Chris was always prompt to help me with legal matters that are beyond my comprehension and very helpful leasing with my former employer. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors to everyone who needs help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional advice tailored to what was needed. Thanks for your help Chris Hadrill and team.

Posted 2 months ago

Peter S

Really pleased with the outcome and the advice I had from Chris and Sacha.

Posted 2 months ago

Harika A

Redmans solicitor's helped me with my settlement agreement, Chris has been very helpful throughout the process.He was very prompt in his responses and made my settlement look simple.Special thanks to Caroline for her efficient communication, thorough explaination of contract terminology and negotiations.I highly reccommend Redmans solicitors for anyone seeking employment related legal help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Good and quick service

Posted 2 months ago