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chris-hadrill-profileChris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, answers the question:

“Can I set aside the term of the settlement agreement that I entered into if I think that I have been defrauded? I was made redundant and now believe that there wasn’t in fact a redundancy situation”

Under the law of contract, there are certain defined circumstances whereby a settlement agreement may be invalid and can be set aside. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Where a party to the settlement agreement lack capacity (for example, the party has a mental disability which rendered them incapable of understanding or consenting to the agreement);
  • Where a mistake has been made about a fundamental matter or which makes it impossible to perform the settlement agreement; and
  • Where there has been a misrepresentation of a material fact in certain circumstances

In this case, the relevant question is whether a settlement agreement can be set aside due to a fraudulent misrepresentation by one party to another, inducing them to enter into the settlement agreement (i.e. that there was a genuine redundancy situation when, it is contended as a matter of fact, this was not the case).

In Hayward v Zurich Insurance Company plc [2015] EWCA Civ 327 the Court of Appeal held that, while the settlement of an ill-founded claim is nonetheless binding, this is not generally the case if the claim was fraudulent: if, subsequent to the completion of the settlement agreement, it is found that a statement about the claim was in fact fraudulent when the other party had believed it was genuine, this may be sufficient to rescind a settlement agreement. However, fraud does not necessarily ‘unravel all’, even when proved – if the party alleging fraud (“A”) was aware (prior to the settlement agreement being completed) that the representation made by the other party (“B”) may not be true but signs the agreement anyway, this will not be sufficient to unravel the settlement (as A had settled the case “with its eyes wide open”).

Applying the above principles to the current question, the crucial issue in the circumstances is whether the person alleging fraud (“A”) was aware – prior to entering into the settlement agreement – that there may not be a genuine redundancy situation at his employer (“B”). If A had alleged to B that there was not a genuine redundancy situation prior to entering into the settlement agreement, but subsequently entered into the agreement anyway, then it is probable that A would find it difficult to challenge the validity of the settlement agreement on the grounds of fraud: A had entered into the settlement agreement with “his eyes wide open”. However, if A had not alleged dishonesty by B from the outset then he may be able to challenge the settlement agreement on the grounds of fraudulent misrepresentation (depending, of course, on A being able to show on the balance of probabilities that the statement by B to this effect was fraudulent).

The practical outcome of this question is that parties need to take care about alleging fault or dishonesty prior to settling a dispute. Further, they also need to understand the implications of settling: advice from specialist legal advisers on this point will therefore normally be extremely helpful in determining the pro’s and con’s of settling a case.

About Chris Hadrill

Chris is a specialist employment lawyer at Redmans. He specialises in contentious and non-contentious employment matters, including breach of contract claims, compromise agreements and Employment Tribunal cases. He writes on employment law matters on a variety of websites, including Direct 2 Lawyers, Lawontheweb.co.uk, LegalVoice, the Justice Gap and his own blog. Contact Chris by emailing him at chadrill@redmans.co.uk

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    Testimonials

    4.80 Average

    365 Reviews

    David L

    I was made a settlement offer by my employer to terminate my emplyment early. Redmans helped me understand the offer, and ensured that it was fair for someone in my position. They made a very stressful situation much easier. Excellent service.

    Posted 12 hours ago

    Anonymous

    I can highly recommend Redmans. The service was professional and prompt and I would not hesitate to use them again. Thanks

    Posted 5 days ago

    Anonymous

    Overall I am satisfied with the performance from Redmans. The reason I have given 4 stars is that I had quite a lot difficulty in contacting the representative which was initially nominated for me. However, when I contacted Chris instead, he was excellent over the phone and secured a great outcome in short order. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors.

    Posted 6 days ago

    Anonymous

    Chris and Redmans were a great help. Effective and efficient, quick response from my first enquiry and then straightforward and attentive throughout with ultimately a positive outcome. I will use them again and recommend them.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Marie P

    Great service, quick responses, good advice and all in a no nonsense, no jargon manner. Would definitely recommend.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Rana was amazingly thorough and professional!

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    I am extremely happy with the legal advice I was provided with. My case was resolved to the best of my expectations. Thank you very much for your professional help.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Shahzad R

    Chris and his team were excellent. They provided sound advice and consultation that resulted in more cash than was offered. Would definitely recommend.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Sanjay B

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mel Chin, for all her support during my settlement process. Where she provided a professional service and was understanding. I would confidently recommend Redmans Solicitors to my friends and family. Thank you and wishing you all a Merry Christmas.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Paul O

    Excellent response time and communication during my dealings with Redmans

    Posted 1 month ago

    Gil T

    I don’t normally write reviews, but thought it was time on this occasion. Just wanted to say that I highly recommend Redmans - especially Rana Tandon, who helped me navigate around my employment contract. Rana was meticulous and thorough and all over my needs. Would I use Redmans again ? ..absolutely

    Posted 1 month ago

    Stephanie D

    Very thorough and professional service. I was very nervous about my employment case, as I had never dealt with anything like it before. However, the solicitors who handled my case made sure I understood everything. I was never kept in the dark and Redmans kept me constantly informed about what was going on with my case. I would definitely recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 1 month ago

    Richard S

    Chris and Sacha were great throughout the entire process. Chris was very helpful once the initial discussions with my company began and before we agreed there was a case. Sacha was very responsive, patient and helpful throughout ensuring I felt I had the right information to make the best decision on next steps. A close friend and wife have both used Redmans in the past few years for unfair dismissals and the service continues to be first-class and I would strongly recommend them again. They definitely help reduce the anxiety that comes with uncertainty around new processes and situations. Thank you!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Jianya

    Very nice and patient went through the whole document with me.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Susan L

    Very helpful and led me through the redundancy process.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Jennice

    I was very impressed with the service that I received, and the speed in which it was handled. I would recommend them to a family member

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Good service, but they could have been quicker in their responses to me. I also felt they could have made it clear at one crucial point that what I was proposing - and what I ultimately ended up doing - was counterproductive. (Had they made the rules around TOIL payments clear to me, this wouldn't have happened). Also, the amount I ended up paying was considerably higher than their original estimate. Still, satisfied with the service I received.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans assisted with a settlement agreement, providing a timely and professional service. Caroline articulates perfectly and was fantastic.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans Solicitors advised me on a settlement agreement with my employer. They smoothly guided me through the contents of the agreement and their practical implications, recommended some amendments to the agreement and answered all my questions. They also advised me to request that the severance payment be increased, which led to the amount being more than doubled in the end. They were approachable and professional at all times. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors to anyone dealing with a settlement agreement or requiring advice on employment law.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I dealt with Chris Hadrill who was very knowledgeable and professional. To provide some context, I raised a grievance with my Employer and with the help of Redmans received a settlement offer. I have secured alternative employment and would recommend Redmans overall. I was very satisfied with the service I received and would rate it as 5 star.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Danielle T

    I contacted Redmans in regards to a situation I needed dealing with with my employer. This was resolved within a week of initial contact and I couldn’t be happier. Both Chris and Sacha were brilliant and couldn’t have been more helpful! Thanks guys!

    Posted 1 month ago