Settling disputes—how to document a settlement
Produced in partnership with Helen Swaffield of Contract Law Chambers
Settling disputes—how to document a settlement

The following Dispute Resolution guidance note Produced in partnership with Helen Swaffield of Contract Law Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Settling disputes—how to document a settlement
  • Settling disputes—the different forms of documenting a settlement
  • Settling by exchange of mail—offer and counter-offer
  • The use of a settlement agreement under hand (contract)
  • Settling using contracts by deed
  • Executing contracts and deeds using counterparts
  • Settling by a consent order
  • Settling using a Tomlin order

This Practice Note identifies the different means by which a settlement can be documented, by exchange of correspondence, contract, deed, Tomlin order or consent order and the various advantages and disadvantages of these methods, including the sometimes problematic issue of determining the point at which the settlement offer is accepted and the related issues of ‘subject to contract’ and managing the negotiation process. It also sets out the execution requirements and provides sample counterparts wording.

For guidance on making an offer to settle, see Practice Note: Settling disputes—settlement offers (Calderbank, WPSAC and Part 36).

For guidance on drafting the terms of a settlement agreement (whether executed as a contract or a deed), see Practice Note: Settling disputes—drafting the settlement agreement.

For Precedent draft settlement agreements, see:

  1. Draft Settlement agreement—pre-action settlement

  2. Draft Settlement agreement—for settling disputes post-commencement of proceedings

  3. Settlement agreement—short form payment and delivery of goods

Settling disputes—the different forms of documenting a settlement

Deciding on how to document a settlement will depend on various factors, including the stage at which the dispute is settled (pre- or post- issue of proceedings) and the complexity of the matter as well as the extent or limit of any estoppel of benefit to the party.

Where there are court proceedings, the contract may be enforced through returning to court within the existing proceedings to enforce the compromise.