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Advising client as 'independent adviser'
Monday 23 July 2012
I have been contacted by a client who wants me to advise him on a compromise agreement in a discrimination case. Am I able to advise the client as an ‘independent adviser’?
Section 147 of the Equality Act 2010 (‘the act’) sets out the requirements that must be satisfied in order to properly settle claims under the act by way of compromise agreements. It stipulates that employees must receive advice from an ‘independent adviser’ about the terms and effect of any compromise agreement.
There was some uncertainty about the wording of this section as to whether a solicitor for the employee could be recognised as an ‘independent adviser’ for the purposes of preparing a compromise agreement. This could have rendered unenforceable any discrimination-related elements of a compromise agreement made following an employment dispute on which the solicitor had up until that point given advice to the employee.
This ambiguity has now been addressed by the Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Order 2012, which came into force on 6 April 2012. This amended section 147 by confirming that an employee’s lawyer can be an independent adviser for the purposes of preparing a compromise agreement.