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Drafting Enforceable Settlement Agreements

December 1, 2008Article
California Lawyer

It’s one thing to settle a case, and quite another to craft an enforceable settlement agreement. The key to enforcing settlement agreements is section 664.6 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Pursuant to that section, if the parties stipulate to a settlement in writing (or orally before the court), a party may make a motion to enforce the agreement—and, if requested by the parties, the court may retain jurisdiction until there is full performance of the settlement terms. However, the situation is more complex if the agreement is reached during mediation, because the “mediation privilege” prohibits introducing into evidence anything said or written in the course of the mediation proceedings. (See Cal. Evid. Code § 1119.) Not to worry. Even with a mediated settlement, a party can obtain judicial enforcement if necessary. You just need to know the governing statutory framework and then follow it to the letter.