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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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    Thorough, efficient, and always available to answer my queries. It was a pleasure to deal with.Thanks

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    Robert

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    Mary B

    I was very happy with the work Chris did for me. I believe with his help I secured a more favourable outcome both financially and in terms of clauses contained in the legal agreement I ultimately signed. I had utmost trust and confidence in the advice Chris provided throughout. Chris kept me informed at every stage and I found him very efficient at bringing matters to a conclusion without unnecessary delay.

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    Anonymous

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    Everyone I dealt with at Redmans were professional, empathetic & always responded promptly and helped make the transition as smooth & efficient as possible for me. If you need legal advice, don’t hesitate & contact the team.

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    Anonymous

    Sacha was incredibly helpful and professional. Timely and accurate advice at a time I most needed it. I was extremely impressed and grateful.

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    Sue W

    The people at Redmans talk to you with respect and make you feel like they take your situation personal. They clearly care and are extremely professional. I have recommended Redmans to many people.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans Solicitors were consistently prompt, efficient and professional from the start of my reaching out to them for support in relation to contentious negotiations of an employment matter that continued for almost two months resulting in a positive settlement agreement. Chris Hadrill was diligent, thorough, empathetic and objective in his advice and guidance, showing deep and broad knowledge of the law and legal processes plus extensive practical experience in handling complex matters, resulting in clear and pragmatic advice in ambiguous circumstances that resulted in a very good outcome. I fully recommend Chris Hadrill and Redmans Solicitors! I have made this review anonymous purely because of the confidentiality obligations in the settlement agreement concluded.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Michelle W

    Redmans solicitors provided legal support and advice for a settlement agreement. Excellent customer service, very professional. The senior associate solicitor kept me updated throughout the process, showed empathy and the agreement was signed-off / completed within the agreed timeline.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Mark W

    Redmans Solicitors were extremely professional and helpful! Chris Hadrill handled my case and was an amazing help! His guidance, advice and understanding to my redundancy settlement were always clear, concise and very helpful and I am very grateful to him, and glad I found Redmans to help with my settlement. I highly recommend them!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 2 months ago

    Margaret A

    I found everything about the company to be extremely professional and efficient. During my initial contact with Chris, he listened well and was reassuring, so I felt confident that my case would be well handled. Caroline was excellent at explaining all the legal points and answering my questions, as well as being very supportive and understanding throughout the process. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Sanja K

    Very efficient and professional service.

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    Anonymous

    I found the advice I was given by Redmans Solicitors to be clear and useful and found the solicitor on my case to be both knowledgeable and approachable.

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    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service from Chris & Mel Chin. The best outcome was achieved from the redundancy process. They were extremely thorough, listened carefully and acted swiftly on my behalf. I highly recommend Redmans Solicitors

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    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

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    Anonymous

    I found Caroline and Chris very Helpful and provided excellent service. Caroline especially provided great legal advice and made me feel at ease with the whole process. I would highly recommend them. Thank you!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 2 months ago