Settlement agreements are legal documents that are used to settle disputes between parties. These agreements are often used in employment law cases, where an employer and employee come to an agreement to settle a dispute and avoid going to trial. But are settlement agreements privileged? The answer is not so simple.
First, it’s important to understand what privilege means in the legal context. Privilege refers to a legal protection that allows individuals to keep certain communications or information confidential and not subject to disclosure in court. The most common types of privilege are attorney-client privilege and doctor-patient privilege.
With settlement agreements, there are two types of privilege that may apply: attorney-client privilege and settlement privilege. Attorney-client privilege protects communications between an attorney and their client from disclosure in court. Settlement privilege, on the other hand, protects communications made during settlement negotiations from being used as evidence in court.
However, not all settlement agreements are privileged. For attorney-client privilege to apply, there must be an attorney-client relationship. This means that the settlement agreement must have been negotiated by an attorney on behalf of their client. If the agreement was negotiated without the involvement of an attorney, then attorney-client privilege may not apply.
Settlement privilege, on the other hand, may apply regardless of whether there was an attorney involved. However, settlement privilege is not absolute. If one of the parties breaches the confidentiality of the settlement agreement, then the privilege may be waived and the communications may be used as evidence in court.
It’s also important to note that settlement agreements may not always be privileged in their entirety. Portions of the agreement that relate to public policy or criminal activity may not be protected by privilege and may be subject to disclosure in court.
In conclusion, settlement agreements may be privileged, but it depends on the circumstances. Attorney-client privilege and settlement privilege may apply, but only if certain conditions are met. It’s important to consult with an attorney experienced in settlement agreements to determine if privilege applies in your particular case.