Previous COT3 settlement agreement precluded claim from pursuing equal pay claim (Mrs P Cleary v Birmingham City Council, ET)

In the case of Mrs P Cleary v Birmingham City Council ET/1301725/2008 the Employment Tribunal held that a claimant was precluded from pursuing her claims in the Tribunal as she had previously entered into a COT3 settlement agreement.

The facts in Mrs P Cleary v Birmingham City Council

Ms Clearly worked for Birmingham City Council (“the Council”). In 2008 she brought an equal pay claim against the Council, alleging that she had not been paid an equivalent rate for her work when she worked at the Council. This claim was settled on 20 September 2011 by way of an ACAS COT3 settlement agreement; under this settlement agreement she agreed to settle all equal pay claims that she had or may have had against the Council in the six years prior to the date on which her employment with the Council commenced. In return, Ms Cleary was paid £88,723 under the settlement agreement in full and final settlement of these claims.

Ms Cleary subsequently brought further equal pay claims, despite having signed the COT3 settlement agreement in 2011.

The Council sought to strike out Ms Cleary’s claims, arguing that the subject matter of the claims had been settled by virtue of the 2011 settlement agreement.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal held that the claims that had Ms Cleary had brought since the 2011 settlement agreement had been settled by this agreement, and that it therefore did not have jurisdiction to deal with the further claims – the 2011 settlement agreement settled not only the original claim but any claim in relating to the Community Care Assistant role (whether casual or specified).

The Employment Judge further held that a further COT3 settlement agreement (dated August 2015) also served to compromise any claims that Ms Cleary had after September 2011, even if there was any challenge to the validity of the 2011 settlement agreement.

Our solicitors’ view on Mrs P Cleary v Birmingham City Council

Chris Hadrill, partner in the employment department at Redmans, commented on the case: “If an employee signs a settlement agreement then it will normally be quite difficult for them to challenge the validity of the settlement agreement, barring any exceptional circumstances (for example, duress or a lack of capacity). Settlement agreements will normally be full and final in nature, and the parties must take care to ensure that they’re happy with both the substance and the wording of the agreement.”

The judgment of the Employment Tribunal in Mrs P Cleary v Birmingham City Council ET/1301725/2008 can be found here.