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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

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    265 Reviews

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 1 day 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 1 day 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.

    Posted 6 days ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 1 week 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

    Posted 1 week ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 1 week ago

    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 1 week ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 1 week ago

    Alex K

    Redmans provided an excellent service, timely and effective. Will definitely recommend.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 1 week ago

    Dominica S

    Caroline & Chris were very prompt and efficient.Very happy with the service and will definitely recommend Redmans Solicitor to everyone !

    Posted 1 week ago

    Sandra K

    If you are looking for a group of solicitors who are Professional, Caring and on point, then look no futher than Redmans. I was literally hand held through out my case. Can not find fault with this company, very happy with the result and the service i received. Would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    I found dealing with Redmans a pleasure. I got to speak to someone quickly, the advice was profferred promplty and the service was not 'pushy'. In addition, the administration was excellent. What more could you ask for?

    Posted 1 week ago

    ALISDAIR L

    Redmans did a brilliant job regarding my redundancy agreement. I miss read an extra charge which wasnt the case so doing a new review to clarify. I would recommend Redmans for any employment law issues you may have.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Christos G

    Great legal advice and quick correspondence. Very supportive and helpful through the entire process. Thank you Redmans!

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Chris Hadrill advised me on a redundancy settlement agreement. He was very responsive, easy to deal with and gave me good advice at a stressful time.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Zara M

    Rana at Redmans gave me support and confidence I needed to ensure a wrong, was put right. I couldn’t recommend enough.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Stuart T

    Chris provided an excellent service, he was efficient and friendly and I had no doubt when recommending him to my colleagues

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service, prompt responses. Chris Hadrill provided excellent and efficient service.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Jane M

    Wonderful solicitors who really listen to you and who are there to offer expert legal advice but they also have a personal touch and you really feel supported both from a legal aspect but also from a personal aspect. They really listen .

    Posted 2 weeks ago