'One of the most basic principles for making and keeping peace within and between nations is that in political, military, moral, and spiritual confrontations, there should be an honest attempt at the reconciliation of differences before resorting to combat.' Jimmy Carter
In order to be able to negotiate freely, the parties can use certain terms in their communications which prevent the other party referring to the negotiations if they break down and the parties end up going to court. Any negotiation undertaken on a without prejudice basis cannot be referred to before the judge. This is intended to encourage to have a more meaningful dialogue without the fear that this will prejudice their legal rights;
Subject to contract
Settlement agreements often go through several drafts. In order to ensure that neither party can try to argue that an early draft was a binding contract, the negotiations are often undertaken “subject to Contract”. The tag is only removed once both parties are happy with the final document.
If a dispute is resolved before legal proceedings have been started it is important that the agreement is recorded properly. Incomplete agreements can lead to further disputes. It is advisable for these to be drafted by a legal adviser.
If court proceedings have been issued, the parties will need to draft an Order setting out what will happen to the proceedings, who will pay the costs of the action and other matters. There are several options as to what can happen to the court proceedings. Sometimes, the terms of the agreement are recorded in a “Tomlin Order”, which imposes a “stay” on the proceedings save for the purposes of putting the agreed terms into effect. These legal documents are usually drafted by lawyers.