After legal proceedings have been issued, it is often the case that one of the parties, usually the defendant, initiates contact with the Plaintiff’s side with a view to settlement. It is not uncommon that the proceedings might actually continue on until nearer the trial date for settlement talk to begin.
Where a defendant initiates talks, the parties’ solicitors will discuss the issues to see if they can reach a settlement acceptable to both sides. Before any settlement is reached your solicitor will explain what this means as the plaintiff needs to be fully aware and satisfied with the terms before he gives his final agreement.
Court cases can be stressful and no matter how strong a case a party think they have, matters can go wrong in evidence. The Judge can only decide on what evidence is given in Court and is unbiased. Peoples’ memories of events can differ and unfortunately there are instances where witnesses are not entirely truthful with their evidence. In such circumstances, this can impact on the plaintiff’s case and could weaken it. So a settlement is an agreement between the parties where a resolution is mutually reached. You have the certainty of an agreement without having to rely on what might happen in Court.
Your Solicitor is experienced in negotiating settlements and can steer you through this process with your best interests in mind. Your solicitor will know how much your case is worth and so can determine whether the defendant is making a genuine offer to settle or not.
In settlement negotiations, the issue of costs is also included. Sometimes the parties agree to pay their own respective costs but usually “costs follow the event” i.e. the defendant or party making the payment will in addition pay the Plaintiff’s costs.
In cases where the plaintiff is a child suing by their parent or guardian, any settlement must be approved by the Court.
Where a settlement offer is made and the plaintiff declines it, the defendant can lodge in court that amount. If then at the conclusion of the case, the judge awards a sum that is less than the amount lodged in court, (and refused by the plaintiff ) the plaintiff will have to pay all the legal costs of both sides, since the date of that lodgement.