Claim Compromised Before Proceedings

Article

21 December, 2009

Natasha Barr v Cooperative Group
Taunton County Court 11th December 2009

The claimant sought damages for personal injury arising from an accident at work on 10th August 2005 sustained while handling a unicontainer with a fellow employee. Forbes acted on behalf of the Defendant.

In May 2005 the claimant had received confirmation of her redundancy. As part of the redundancy settlement the Claimant signed a Compromise Agreement in October 2005 by which she accepted £272.80 as compensation for loss of employment. That agreement contained a clause to the effect that the payment was accepted in settlement of all other claims she might have against the employer, except personal injury claims of which the employee was not aware at the date of the agreement.

The evidence was that the Claimant had been advised by her union representative when signing the agreement. As part of that discussion her personal injury claim had been discussed, the union representative venturing the opinion that she did not 'have a leg to stand on.'

The claim nevertheless proceeded to litigation and was listed for trial on the preliminary point of whether the claim had indeed been compromised already.

The Claimant sought to argue that there was no consideration for the Defendant's entitlement to exclude the personal injury claim and the clause was unenforceable. The Claimant further sought to argue that the £272.80 was her wage entitlement in law and that it was past consideration.

The judge held that the consideration was sufficient and the agreement was enforceable. There was no evidence that the claimant was entitled to payment independently of the compromise agreement. The claimant had discussed the personal injury claim at the time and was plainly aware of it. She had waived her rights to bring a claim.

The claim was dismissed with the Claimant to pay the Defendant's costs.

Comment

It is always important when dealing with personal injury claims at work, to be aware of ongoing employment disputes which are often dealt with separately. Careful study of the related documentation may reveal good defences which might otherwise be missed.

For further information please contact David Pickford at out Manchester Office, Church House, 90 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2GP, call 0161 918 0000 or contact David Pickford by email.

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