Full and final settlement and the compromise of claims
On 11 February 2016, Lord Justice Lewison handed down the lead judgment in John Leslie v News Group Newspapers.
The case involved the former television presenter John Leslie and his claims for phone hacking. Mr Leslie (along with a number of other well known people) had brought an action relating to the hacking of his personal mobile phone.
His primary remedy was for damages and his particulars of claim indicated that he reserved the right to adjust his claim on disclosure. Prior to disclosure he settled his claim for a sum of money and an apology. Subsequent to the settlement he discovered that the phone hacking was more widespread than he had thought. He brought a second action in the High Court which was struck out on the basis of the settlement of the first action. Mr Leslie appealed to the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal was absolutely clear; if the settlement is a full and final one then it represents an absolute compromise of the claim. Only claims that are based on differing facts and potentially on different law can be brought but even they can be susceptible to be covered by the settlement.
The key points that arise from this case are:
- Be very careful about the extent of the settlement – make sure that you are not settling claims that you have no intention of settling and;
- Do not settle the case before you have all of the facts to hand and are therefore confident about the extent of (and the value of) the case.
For more information, please contact Peter Brewer.