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If you and the plaintiff come to an agreement about how the case should be finalised, you should write down and sign your agreement. 'Terms of settlement' is one way you can do this. To find out how to prepare terms of settlement, follow the steps in the guide on this page.
You can talk to the plaintiff about settlement at any time. By talking to the plaintiff you might be able to agree to 'terms of settlement' or a 'settlement agreement'.
Your agreement should include:
Your agreement should also deal with the payment of legal costs. You may agree that one party will pay costs of the other or that each party will pay their own costs.
If you negotiate in writing, you can write the words 'Without prejudice' at the top of your correspondence. This means that one party can't use evidence of settlement discussions against the other party if the case goes to a hearing.
It is a good idea to put a settlement agreement in writing once you have agreed to the terms. Putting it in writing means there is written evidence about what was agreed. It also reduces the chance of any confusion about the terms.
There is no set format for terms of settlement, but there are some things you should include, such as:
You should get
legal advice before agreeing to terms of settlement.
Instructions for writing terms of settlement.
Once you and the plaintiff have written down your agreement, you both need to sign it. Each of you should have your signatures witnessed and the witnesses should provide their full names and addresses under their signatures. It is a good idea if a lawyer or officer of the court such as a registrar witnesses the signatures.
Once your version of the agreement has been signed and witnessed, you can exchange it for the plaintiff's signed and witnessed version.
Once you have a signed settlement agreement, you and the plaintiff can end the case. There are a number of ways this can be done:
The plaintiff can end the case by filing a notice of discontinuance. This is a notice telling the court that they no longer want to go ahead with the court case. It does not tell the court anything else about your settlement agreement.
For more information, see
Notice of discontinuance.
If you and the plaintiff have agreed to settle the case you can file a consent judgment or order with the court. It can include some or all of the terms of settlement and is included as part of the court's records.
For more information, see
Consent judgment or order.
If you and the plaintiff agree to terms, sign and exchange the agreement, and then do nothing further, the court will eventually dismiss the case.