The EAT has handed down its decision in Allma Construction v Bonner, confirming that, in deciding whether a valid settlement has been concluded through ACAS, it is irrelevant whether the ACAS officer believes that a settlement has been reached or whether a written agreement has actually been documented.
Allma made a settlement offer of £1,000 on a Friday. Mr Bonner instructed his solicitor to accept the offer, who then communicated this to an ACAS officer (though not the one handling the case, who was on holiday). The ACAS officer left messages for his colleague and Allma's solicitor indicating acceptance. However, over the weekend Mr Bonner changed his mind, and on Monday his solicitor called ACAS and Allma's solicitor to try to retract the acceptance.
On the facts, it was held by the EAT that a binding settlement had in fact been reached, despite the fact a COT3 had not yet been agreed and signed. It is only necessary for the essentials of a contract to be agreed and this may consist of no more than an agreement that a sum of money is to be paid to bring litigation to an end. The ACAS officer had done enough to have "taken action" for the purposes of section 203 of the Employment Rights Act and there was no need for the parties to enter into a written agreement for the settlement to be binding.