A settlement is an agreement reached between the Claimant (the person making the claim) and the Defendant (the person the claim is being made against) which brings the claim to an end rather than it having to be decided by a Judge. It is negotiated between the two parties’ solicitors.
It is always sensible, if at all possible, to settle a claim out of court rather than pursue it to a full court trial. A settlement will result in you receiving your compensation more quickly, will remove the uncertainty of a trial and will also reduce the costs. As long as it is on sensible terms, we will make every effort to settle your claim.
We will advise you fully about every offer that is made and will give you our advice as to how we think you should respond. It is also always possible to take a second opinion from a barrister. Before any offer or payment made by the Defendants is accepted or refused, or indeed before we make any offer to them, we will always discuss it with you and we will only act on your instructions.
Under normal circumstances the parties are entitled to agree to a settlement on whatever terms they choose. However, there are five circumstances where the approval of a judge must be obtained via a Court Hearing:
- If the Claimant is under the age of eighteen years at the date of the settlement.
- If the Claimant is unable to manage his or her own affairs because of some severe learning disability.
- If all or part of the compensation is to be paid in the form of periodical payments rather than as a lump sum. This might be the case where the claim includes a substantial sum for anticipated future financial losses e.g. the cost of nursing care which might continue for the rest of the Claimant’s life. In these circumstances, because of the difficulty in predicting life expectancy, a periodic payment award might be sensible.
- If the claim relates to someone who has died as a result of medical negligence and the award includes compensation for the loss of financial support to the deceased’s dependants and either one or more of those dependants is aged under eighteen or the dependants (despite all being adults) cannot agree how to apportion the award.
- If there is a recognised risk that at some time in the future the Claimant might develop some significant deterioration in his/her physical or mental condition, the court may give him/her the right to return to court to obtain further compensation for that deterioration.