Once a settlement has been reached through an alternative route to the Court, it is necessary to ensure that the agreement will become legally binding to protect against further disputes later down the line. For this reason, consent orders are prepared to record the terms of the settlement of the dispute and the provision relating to costs. The consent order is a formal, legal document by which financial matters are finalised completely upon agreement and ensures a clean break has been made so that no financial claim relating to the dispute can be made against either party in the future.
Obtaining a consent order is a relatively straightforward process and involves making an application to the Court. Both parties are required to sign and complete a draft consent order which is then sent to the Court alongside a ‘Notice of an Application for a Financial Order’ and a ‘Statement of Information’ form. Provided the order is perceived to be reasonable and fair, the judge will approve the agreement, making it a legally binding contract between the parties.
Whilst consent orders are legally binding and represent a clean break between the parties, they can in theory be set aside through an application to the Court. To do this however, the applying party must have strong grounds showing that misrepresentation, mistake or any other ground to set aside the order exists. For this reason, consent orders cannot be set aside without very good reason. In addition, once the consent order has been created, it is deemed to have been perfected and cannot be varied by the Court.
Consent order is a generic term that applies for orders that record settlements. It is a legally binding contract and, if breached, the innocent party is entitled to issue new proceedings for a breach of contract. They are a common feature of legal settlements and it is therefore important that professional legal advice is sought when obtaining one. At Seatons, our team of highly trained legal professionals have a wealth of experience dealing with dispute resolution and consent orders and provide clear, easy to understand legal advice at low sensible fees. For more information, feel free to give us a call on 01536 276300.