When employees are offered a settlement agreement, they often ask the question, do they need to take settlement agreement legal advice? If so who do they need to speak to, to obtain this advice? Can they obtain some free legal advice from a legal advice centre? Alternatively, would they be able to obtain some free legal advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau?
Contacting a qualified solicitor for legal advice
The answer is that if you need settlement agreement legal advice, you will be required to seek the advice of a qualified solicitor. This ordinarily means that you need to contact a firm of solicitors to obtain settlement agreement legal advice.
The advice can very often be obtained over the telephone. If this is the case, you simply email a copy of your settlement agreement to the solicitor’s firm, together with any relevant documents for the solicitor to review.
Some relevant documents that the solicitor might need to see in order to provide settlement agreement legal advice include your contract of employment and any other written documentation that details terms and conditions of employment, including policy documents at the employer or share option agreements.
In the event that a dispute has occurred, it may be useful for you to send a chronology of events to the solicitor before commencing the initial telephone consultation. Alternatively, you can meet the solicitor in person to take advice.
Transparent legal costs
If you are seeking settlement agreement legal advice, we would advise you from the outset, to obtain clear information from the solicitor about the legal costs of proceeding with this advice. There is likely to be a legal cost contribution from your employer detailed within the settlement agreement and this typically ranges between £250 and £750 plus VAT.
It is important for you to ask the solicitor you’re instructing for advice on your settlement agreement whether or not the legal fee contribution will cover all of the advice on the agreement or whether there may be in excess for you to pay. Here at DPH Legal, if you require settlement agreement legal advice on the terms of your settlement agreement then the legal fee contribution is likely to cover all of the costs that you will incur for that advice.
What should my legal advice cover?
Settlement agreement advice should include legal advice on whether or not any claims have arisen from the circumstances leading up to the offer of a settlement agreement to the employee concerned. For example, in the event that a flawed process has been followed by the employer in presenting a settlement agreement to you, then it may be the case that claims have arisen and that these can be to your advantage in negotiating a more favourable payment, pursuant to the settlement agreement.
It is the legal adviser’s responsibility to advise you whether or not such claims have arisen and whether or not the sums of money being offered to you under the settlement agreement constitute a reasonable sum or alternatively, whether you should elect to negotiate a higher sum via your instructed solicitors.
Understanding the clauses in your agreement
In addition to this, the settlement agreement legal advice should include full advice on all of the clauses detailed within the settlement agreement included including the clauses related to confidentiality and non-derogatory statements and a reference to be offered to the individual concerned.
Settlement agreement legal advice is not only important to ensure that the individual is obtaining as good a deal as possible on his or her exit, but it is also a prerequisite to ensure that the settlement agreement is enforceable as a binding contract as a matter of law.
With over 10 years of experience in employment law matters, David Philip Harris specialises in providing legal advice on settlement agreements to both employees and employers throughout the UK. David’s opinion and advice are frequently sought after as he contributes often to BBC Radio Berkshire and the People Management Magazine. David Is a long-standing member of The Employment Lawyers Association and The Law Society.