If you "settle the case" this means that the case is ended by agreement with the other party rather than by a decision of the court.
You can contact the other party and try to settle the case at any time. For more information on how to negotiate with the other side, see Negotiation.
You should get legal advice before agreeing to any settlement.
Depending on what your claim is for, you should think about whether you will accept:
You should also think about:
Discussions about settling the case can happen at the court on the day of the Pre Trial Review or the hearing. Written or spoken settlement discussions can also take place at other times away from the court.
If you decide to try and settle the case, make sure that all your letters, emails or faxes to the other party about settlement have the words 'Without Prejudice' written at the top. This means whatever information is in those documents can't be used against you in a court hearing if the case does not settle.
If the other party has a lawyer, it's usually better to speak to the lawyer rather than directly to the other party.
If the plaintiff and defendant are able to agree on a settlement, you both need to make sure that your court case is finalised. This is usually done by a consent judgment. This means that the terms of your agreement becomes an order of the court and has the same effect as a judgment of the court after a hearing of a case.
You should get legal advice about your settlement agreement and whether a consent judgment is an appropriate way to finalise your agreement.
Information about court judgments is collected by credit reference agencies. A defendant may want to have a settlement agreement that protects their credit reference record. You should get legal advice about this.
A consent judgment can be made in two ways:
There is no set form for Terms of Settlement. They are usually handwritten at court after discussions between the parties. The Terms of Settlement need to set out what has been agreed to finalise the claim. It should say if legal costs and interest will be paid. It should also state when any payments are to be made and what will happen if an agreed payment is not made.
For more information, see:
If you are not at court when you reach an agreement to settle the case and you want your agreement to become a court order, you can file a form called a Consent Judgment to finalise the case. By doing this you can avoid further visits to court. Both the plaintiff and defendant must sign the Consent Judgment form.
For more information, see Consent Judgment - Step by step guide.
In some circumstances, a plaintiff may decide to withdraw their claim from the court. This is called discontinuing a case.
Situations where a plaintiff might decide to discontinue a case include:
If a plaintiff decides to discontinue their claim, they can do this by filing a Notice of Discontinuance. The Notice of Discontinuance needs to be signed by the defendant to show that they agree with the discontinuance. A defendant is likely to want the Notice of Discontinuance to deal with the payment of court fees and legal costs.
You should get legal advice if you think your claim has been made against the wrong person. If the defendant will not sign the Notice of Discontinuance, the plaintiff can ask the court at the Pre Trial Review or the hearing for permission to discontinue their claim.
For more information, see Discontinuing the case - Step by step guide.
For more information about settling the case, see Settling the case - Frequently Asked Questions.