Trial Counsel for Law Firms

Mechanics of Settlement: Form and Content

The art of settlement and the mechanics of settlement are two very different things.  This article will focus on the mechanics, but I can’t help comment on the art.  Settlement is best achieved in person at a meeting or at least on the phone.  Emails and letters are more useful for exchanging settlement documents than for negotiation purposes.

In terms of form, settlement can be confirmed verbally over the phone or on a handshake.  To ensure everyone’s on the same page, lawyers always recommend an agreement in writing.  All this requires is an exchange of emails or letters.  The use of Court forms is an option, as is the use of even more formal minutes of settlement.

In terms of content, all that’s required is a simple agreement.  Offer, acceptance and consideration (an exchange) are the classic legal requirements for a contract.  Most settlements involve an exchange of money for a release, but the content can be much more elaborate as settlements can get creative.

A discussion of offers to settle and offer precedents can be found in Mick’s Trial Manual.

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