If new evidence comes to light, can you re-claim?

Crystal ball time…

In settling your current claim is it possible for you to settle a future claim of which you have no knowledge? The answer is yes, in principle (with personal injury claims being a general exception).

The recent decision of the High Court in Brazier v News Group Newspapers [2015] EWHC 125 (CH), 27 January 2015, regarding the ‘celebrity’ phone hacking scandal, is as relevant to employment Settlement Agreements as much as it is to the settlement of general civil claims.

The case concerned Jeff Brazier and John Leslie who, having previously settled their phone hacking claims, sought to bring fresh claims when evidence of further hacking emerged. News Group Newspapers defended, arguing that the fresh claims were settled as part of the earlier settlement. Despite the original Settlement Agreements being narrowly drafted with no mention of settling future claims, the Court found that the fresh claims had been settled. The Court gave particular weight to the original pleadings which were broadly drafted, noting that the fresh claims would have been included had they been known at the time. Further, a distinction is to be drawn between those who are truly ignorant of future claims and those who are “aware of their ignorance” and anticipate the possibility but do not know the full extent.

Future claims were settled in the above case but there are many cases in the Employment Appeal Tribunal where the principle is accepted but the wording used in the settlements was found to be insufficiently clear to exclude future claims.

For example, in the case of Hilton UK Hotels Limited v McNaughton. When settling a dispute, both parties normally seek to draw a line under what happened and move on. To achieve this, the intention of the parties and the wording of the Settlement Agreement should be made crystal clear.

At Emsleys, we have a dedicated dispute resolution team. Whether you are a business owner involved in a commercial dispute, an employer or employee involved in a dispute at work or you are having problems with your neighbour, landlord, tenant or tradesman – we have the people to help.

Call us today for some free initial advice on 0113 201 4900.

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