I have a claim against my ex-landlord. I found it necessary to go to court. He said he blocked all communication with me and stopped replying to my messages about money and furniture he owes me. After the process started, he started messaging me again. He says he wants to meet up to discuss matters.

What is the benefit to settling? Why not just let the court decide now that the process has already started? In a sense, I want as much money as possible and he wants to give me as little possible. I don't see how we could both be happier with an arrangement made between ourselves than one made by the court.

Several times I tried to negotiate with the landlord and several times he did not honor his agreement. For the sake of this question let's assume the landlord is dishonest. Why would I trust him to honor his agreement to settle? Is the way it usually works we both sign a contract saying once the landlord pays me $x then I will cancel/withdraw all claims and not make them again? The key point being I received the money before cancelling the claims?

Lastly, I have other people willing to testify the landlord has done something similar to them. I had hoped it becomes apparent this is a scheme the landlord is repeating. From examples I've seen, some parties argue to the court "this is the same situation as x and you found y guilty in that case so you should come to the same conclusion here!" If I settled what would the affect be on an precedent established?

1 Answer 1

  • A settlement removes the element of risk and uncertainty, particularly the risk of losing the case. One never knows what a court will do, particularly in a jury trial, but one does know (or should know) exactly what a settlement will involve when agreeing to it.

  • A settlement can take a compromise position. A court case will often have an all-or-nothing outcome. In settlement negotiations, the parties can find an outcome that gives each some of what they want.

  • A settlement can reduce costs, both financial and intangible. Preparing for and going though a trial can involve significant time, trouble, stress, and expense. A settlement can avoid such costs.

If one believes that the other party is dishonest and will not honor a settlement, there is less reason to enter into a settlement agreement. However, a well-crafted settlement has guarantees to try to ensure proper performance by each party.

A settlement does not establish any precedent. However, a decision at the trial count level normally does not establish any binding precedent either. Only when a case goes to an appeals court and there is a decision there is a precedent which governs other cases established.

Settlement agreements often provide that their terms are confidential. But this is not required, and trying to insist on a confidential settlement can backfire. This very long website describes (in great detail) an IP lawsuit that would not have happened had one side not attempted to insist on a "gag order" confidentiality clause.

  • You missed the big one - the OP might lose the case. There is no such thing as a certain win in a court.
    – Dale M
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 2:47
  • 1
    @daleM My first bullet point spoke of "risk and uncertainty". I thought it obvious that the primary risk was the risk of losing. Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 11:47

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