In many cases, a settlement between all the parties is reached either prior to the trial date or on the day of the trial (the "steps of the courtroom").
If the defendant wishes to offer you money to end your claim and you are agreeable to settling your case out of court, your solicitor may arrange a settlement meeting with the defendant's legal representatives prior to the trial date.
At the meeting, your legal representatives will explain to you the advantages and disadvantages of accepting the offer made by the defendant and will give you advice about your chances of success at trial and the amount of damages you may receive in court.
The advantage to settling your case is that it removes the risk of losing the case and/or having to pay the costs of the case. There is no guarantee that a court will award you more damages than the sum offered by the defendant.
Your solicitor or your barrister will negotiate with the defendant's legal representatives to reach a sum that is acceptable to all sides. Usually the issue of who is to pay your legal costs is dealt with. You are not obliged to accept the advice of your solicitor or barrister or to settle your claim and the final decision will always be yours.
However, if you do agree to a settlement then that decision is final, the case proceeds no further and you have forfeited your claim in return for the mutually agreed sum.
If an offer is made in settlement of your claim and you refuse that offer, the defendant may lodge that amount in court.
If at the end of the case the judge awards an amount that is less than the lodgement, you will be obliged to pay all of the legal costs of both sides since the date of the lodgement.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.