Acas settlements are legally binding contracts between the parties to settle actual or potential complaints to the Employment Tribunal.
When a resolution is reached, the Acas conciliator will record what has been agreed on an Acas settlement form, known as a COT3. Both you and your employer will sign this as a formal record of the agreement.
However, it is important to know that an agreement becomes binding at the point both parties confirm to Acas their agreement to the terms. This can be done in a telephone call or by email.
The COT3 is a legally binding enforceable contract. This means that you will not be able to make a future Tribunal claim in those matters, or, if a Tribunal claim has already been lodged, it will be closed.
A COT3 Agreement is similar to a Settlement Agreement in some ways but there are some important differences.
The role of the ACAS conciliator is to:
COT3 Agreements are enforceable using the Employment Tribunal Penalty Enforcement and Naming scheme if you are still in employment at the time you enter into the COT3.
If the Respondent does not pay, they will be fined, and can be forced to make payment. If the COT3 was signed once employment had terminated then you needs to go to the County Court to enforce.
A COT3 is a legally binding contract and if one of the parties breaches the terms, the other can take them to court to claim breach of contract.
Most Tribunal claims can be compromised by means of a Settlement Agreement. The following statutory rights can only be settled by using a COT3:
Unlike Settlement Agreements, COT3 Agreements do not need to be signed off by a solicitor. However, depending on the situation, you may wish to take legal advice to ensure that you are getting a fair deal.
The time it takes for a COT3 to be finalised depends on how much negotiation takes place between the parties involved. Once the terms are agreed, the timing of any payment will depend on what is agreed between the parties, although in practice this is often made within 14 – 21 days of the COT3 being signed.
Unlike Settlement Agreements, there isn’t usually any provision for your employer to provide a financial contribution for you to obtain legal advice.
We would advise that a condition of you agreeing to enter a COT3 would be a reasonable financial contribution towards your legal costs, from your employer, which would be dependent on the complexity of your case.
Settlement Agreements usually provide for a contribution of £350-£500 plus VAT but we sometimes receive costs from the employer of up to £2,000-£3,000 plus VAT in particularly contentious cases.
If you have been offered a COT3 Agreement, please contact us.
We are more than happy to have a free initial chat with you to point you in the right direction.
We advise that you ask for a financial contribution from your employer so that we are able to fully assess your situation. In the event of the employer refusing or their contribution being inadequate, we will provide an estimate of how many hours we will need to assess your case. We will give you a more accurate estimate about how much this will cost once we have received your papers.
Where negotiations break down, we may be able to offer a Damages Based Agreement. This is where we receive a percentage of any compensation you receive, as a result of taking further action. This may include bringing a formal grievance or issuing proceedings.
Our experienced COT3 solicitors will advise on the fairness of the sums offered and the tax implications.
We will be able to advise you as to whether the compensation offered by your employer is fair. For example, if we believe you have a claim such as a workplace discrimination or unfair dismissal claim, we will assess its potential value.
We will also consider whether the terms in the COT3 are reasonable. We will also provide guidance on the tax implications of the figures put forward in the Agreement.
It is always your decision as to whether to enter into the COT3, ask for a Settlement Agreement, or make a claim at the Employment Tribunal. Our written advice will mean you are able to make an informed decision about how you wish to proceed.
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