Settlement Agreements Archives – BDBF LLP

Budget 2016: Amendments to taxation of termination payments

Anyone who has ever been party to a settlement agreement will most likely be aware that an employee gets the first £30,000 of any termination payment tax-free, with any excess subjected to income tax as normal. The current position is that, even for the portion of a termination payment which exceeds the threshold and is taxable, National Insurance Contributions (NICs) are not payable.

Without Prejudice: Subject to Contract

The High Court found that a settlement letter from an employer to an employee and the employee’s subsequent letter of acceptance amounted to a binding settlement agreement. This automatically prevented any further negotiations. If the employer had intended the settlement letter to be a springboard to further discussions, it should have headed the settlement offer ‘subject to contract’.

Settlement sums payable net

In Barden v Commodities Research Unit, Mr Barden was the former CEO of Commodities Research Unit. On his retirement, he was paid a sum under a settlement agreement. The agreement simply stated that Commodities Research were to ‘pay £1,350,000’ to Mr Barden. It fell silent on whether the sum would be paid net or gross. The High Court ruled that the sum should be paid net of tax (that is, after deduction of tax). To do so otherwise would be commercially absurd.