I am a trainee solicitor in the employment law department. A potential client needs advice on a settlement agreement. Can I advise and sign the agreement?
Prior to July 2013, statutory settlement agreements were known as 'compromise agreements'.
Provisions conferring statutory employment rights generally prohibit any agreement to contract out of the rights that they confer, unless such agreement complies with the statutory requirements set out in the relevant employment legislation, in particular section 203(3) Employment Rights Act 1996.
Among these requirements are the conditions that a settlement agreement must be in writing and that an employee or worker must receive advice on the terms of the agreement from a 'relevant independent adviser'.
The Employment Rights (Dispute Resolution) Act 1998 contains the categories of advisers which come under the definition of the 'relevant independent adviser'.
It lists, among others, solicitors and barristers but does not include trainee solicitors. A trainee solicitor therefore cannot advise on such an agreement.
For further information, see Remedies in Employment Law Handbook (7th edition), which is available to purchase from the Law Society's online bookshop.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.
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