Do I have to sign the first draft of the settlement agreement?

You certainly can but the agreement has been drafted by your employer or their solicitor to protect their interests. The rationale for getting independent legal advice yourself is so you can protect your interests or at least understand the risks.

To give you an idea how rare it is we have only ever signed less than 1% of agreements without a single amendment. It is normal for there to be some changes which can even be minor irrespective of whether you wish to negotiate. Even in cases where it has not been possible to negotiate or the client does not wish to negotiate, there may be amendments to the terms such as inclusion of an agreed reference that can be sought to make the agreement more beneficial. Sometimes there are changes to the wording to benefit you which is necessary.

It is quite normal for there to be several drafts of the agreement. Worst case there are negotiations over the sum and amendments to lots of the clauses or clauses which need to be added. These are normally sought and then a further amended draft is produced but not all the amendments or financial terms are always agreed on the first try so there can be a final draft once these have been agreed and ironed out. Sometimes there can be 2 or 3 versions before it is ready to be signed.

Very occasionally we do sign the first draft when the agreement is a good package and a very standard form. Sometimes the client is happy with the offer and does not want to negotiate. Sometimes we make suggestions of amendments and this is our advice. For more minor amendments some client take a view as to whether we ask for these in the end.

More FAQs on Settlement Agreements