What is a Tripartite Deed?
A settlement deed is a legally binding agreement that parties can use to resolve disputes outside of court. It is often used to bring an end to litigation as it provides a final and binding agreement between the parties involved. A settlement deed can be used to resolve a wide range of disputes, from commercial and business disputes to personal injury claims.
Common Types of Settlement Deeds
There are many different types of settlement deeds, each designed to address specific types of disputes. Some of the most common types of settlement deeds include:
- Deed of Release: A deed of release is used to release one party from legal claims made against them by another party. For example, if one party has agreed to pay damages to another party, a deed of release can be used to release the paying party from any further legal claims related to the dispute.
- Deed of Termination: A deed of termination is used to terminate a previous agreement between two parties. For example, if two parties have entered into a contract that they no longer wish to be bound by, a deed of termination can be used to terminate the contract.
- Deed of Settlement: A deed of settlement is used to resolve a dispute between two parties. It typically outlines the terms of the settlement, including any financial compensation that will be paid to one or both parties.
- Deed of Novation: A deed of novation is used to transfer the rights and obligations of one party under a contract to another party. For example, if a party wants to transfer ownership of a property to another party, a deed of novation can be used to transfer the rights and obligations of the original party to the new party.
5. Deed of Forbearance: A deed of forbearance is used to suspend legal action against a party for a specified period of time. For example, if a party owes money to another party but is unable to pay, a deed of forbearance can be used to suspend legal action against the party for a specified period of time, allowing them to come up with a payment plan.
Examples of Common Types of Settlement Deeds
In summary, settlement deeds are a useful tool for resolving disputes outside of court. By understanding the different types of settlement deeds available, parties can choose the one that best suits their needs and work towards a mutually acceptable resolution to their dispute.
Why Use a Settlement Deed?
When parties are embroiled in a dispute, they often seek a resolution through a settlement agreement. A settlement deed is one way of recording the terms of the agreement reached by the parties. It is a binding legal instrument that is enforceable in court, which means that if either party breaches the agreement, the other party can take legal action to enforce it.
There are several benefits to using a settlement deed, including:
- Certainty and Finality: A settlement deed provides a clear record of the terms agreed upon by the parties. It sets out the rights and obligations of each party in a comprehensive and binding manner, which helps to avoid future disputes and provides finality to the matter.
- Avoidance of Litigation: By using a settlement deed, parties can avoid the expense and uncertainty of going to court. A settlement deed allows parties to resolve their disputes in a way that is more flexible, faster and less costly than litigation.
- Confidentiality: Settlement deeds can include a confidentiality clause, which means that the terms of the agreement are kept confidential and not disclosed to third parties. This can be important in situations where the parties do not want the terms of the agreement to be made public.
- Avoidance of Admission of Liability: Settlement deeds can be structured in a way that avoids an admission of liability by either party. This can be useful in situations where parties want to avoid the negative consequences of an admission of liability, such as reputational damage.
- Flexibility: Settlement deeds can be tailored to suit the specific circumstances of the dispute. They can include any terms that the parties agree upon, which can provide greater flexibility and creativity in resolving the dispute.
To better understand the benefits of using a settlement deed, the following table compares the key features of a settlement deed to those of a traditional settlement agreement:
Requirements for Creating a Valid Settlement Deed
A settlement deed is a legally binding agreement between parties that aims to settle a dispute without proceeding to trial. It is essential to follow specific requirements for creating a valid settlement deed.
The following outlines the essential requirements for creating a valid settlement deed:
1. Intention to create legal relations
Like any other contract, a settlement deed requires that the parties involved have the intention to create legal relations. Without the intention to create a legal relationship, a settlement deed will not be enforceable. This requirement ensures that the parties involved are aware of the legal consequences of their agreement.
2. Must be in writing
A settlement deed must be in writing to be valid. This requirement ensures that the terms of the agreement are clear and unambiguous. This is particularly important in a dispute where the parties involved may have different interpretations of the agreement’s terms.
3. Signed by all parties
All parties involved in the settlement deed must sign it to show their agreement to the terms. A signature is an essential element of a legally binding contract, indicating that the parties have agreed to be bound by the terms of the agreement. This requirement ensures that all parties are aware of and agree to the terms of the settlement deed.
4. Must be executed as a deed
A settlement deed must be executed as a deed to be legally binding. This means that it must be signed, sealed, and delivered. Section 127 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) allows a company to execute a document as a deed by expressing it as “executed as a deed” and having it signed by two directors or a director and a company secretary, with or without a common seal.
5. No need for consideration
Unlike a contract, a settlement deed does not require consideration to be legally binding. This means that the parties involved do not need to exchange anything of value to make the settlement deed valid.
- Nicom Interiors Pty Ltd v Circuit Finance Pty Ltd  NSWSC 728: In this case, the court held that a settlement deed is a deed, and the deed’s intention to be a deed must be clear from the document’s language.
- Prime Constructions Pty Ltd v Westbridge Investments Pty Ltd: This case reaffirmed the principle that a settlement deed must be executed as a deed to be valid and enforceable.
- Boz One Pty Ltd v McLellan  VSCA 68; 105 ACSR 325: This case confirmed that a settlement deed does not require consideration to be legally binding.
Comparison Between Settlement Deeds and Other Legal Instruments
As shown in the table above, a settlement deed is distinct from other legal instruments such as an agreement or a contract. Unlike agreements or contracts, a settlement deed does not require consideration and has a longer limitation period for bringing an action. Additionally, settlement deeds may or may not be enforceable in equity depending on whether they contain consideration.
Why You Should Engage a Contracts Specialist
A settlement deed is an important legal document that can significantly impact the outcome of a dispute resolution. As such, it is essential that the deed is drafted carefully to ensure that it is clear, precise, and allows the parties to achieve their objectives. Here are some reasons why you should engage a contracts specialist to draft or review your settlement deed:
1. Clarity and Precision
A settlement deed must be drafted with clarity and precision to ensure that the parties’ intentions are accurately reflected. A contracts specialist can help ensure that the deed is clear and unambiguous, reducing the risk of misinterpretation or ambiguity that may result in further disputes.
2. Objective Achievement
The purpose of a settlement deed is to resolve disputes and achieve a specific objective. A contracts specialist can help ensure that the deed is drafted in a way that enables the parties to achieve their objectives, whether it be the resolution of the dispute or the implementation of an agreed-upon course of action.
3. Risk Mitigation
A settlement deed can significantly impact the parties’ legal rights and obligations, potentially exposing them to legal and financial risks. A contracts specialist can help mitigate these risks by ensuring that the deed is legally sound, validly executed, and enforceable.
4. Experience and Expertise
A contracts specialist has the experience and expertise necessary to draft or review a settlement deed effectively. They can identify potential issues or risks, and offer advice on how to address them, ensuring that the deed is legally sound and achieves the parties’ objectives.
Engaging a contracts specialist may seem like an additional cost, but it can ultimately save parties time and money by avoiding disputes or litigation. A well-drafted settlement deed can reduce the risk of further disputes and the associated costs, making it a cost-effective solution in the long run.
Get a Contracts Specialist Today
In conclusion, engaging a contracts specialist is an essential step in ensuring that a settlement deed is clear, precise, legally sound, and achieves the parties’ objectives. The expertise and experience of a contracts specialist can help mitigate risks, avoid disputes, and ultimately save parties’ time and money.
Settlement deeds are important legal instruments that can help parties settle disputes and avoid lengthy and costly litigation. They can provide parties with certainty, finality, and protection from future claims. However, it is crucial that settlement deeds are drafted clearly, precisely, and with the parties’ objectives in mind. It is highly recommended to engage a contracts specialist to assist in the drafting and execution of a settlement deed.
If you are currently in a dispute and considering entering into a settlement deed, we recommend seeking the advice of a contracts specialist. Our team of experienced professionals can provide you with tailored advice and assist you in drafting a settlement deed that best meets your needs. Contact us today for a free 15-minute consultation.