ACAS COT3 Settlement: Resolving your dispute

Caragh Bailey
5 min read
ACAS COT3 Settlement from Employment Law Friend

Are you going through a dispute with your employer and unsure how to come to an agreement? We tell you how an ACAS COT3 agreement differs from a settlement agreement and if it’s suited to you.

What Is a COT3?

An ACAS COT3 records the terms of a legally binding agreement which is intended to settle a dispute between you and your employer with the assistance of an ACAS conciliation officer. It can be used to settle an employment tribunal claim, or a potential claim.

What does COT3 mean?

The COT3 form is derived from ‘Central office of tribunals form 3’. When an agreement has been reached, the terms will be recorded by the ACAS conciliator on a COT3 form.

Things to know about an ACAS COT3:

  • When an ACAS COT3 settlement has been made, you will no longer be able to make a claim.
  • If you have already made a claim, your ACAS conciliation officer will notify the tribunal that the claim has been settled.
  • It differs from a settlement agreement because you can only negotiate a COT3 agreement through ACAS.
  • In many cases you don’t have to seek independent legal advice. The ACAS conciliation officer will explain the terms and complete the COT3 form.

What is the difference between ACAS COT3 and settlement agreement?

Settlement Agreement
Usually much shorter and more simple.
Lengthy agreements, often up to 15 pages and drafted by lawyers.
Verbally binding and can be signed by both parties representatives.
Signed personally by both you and your employer before it is binding.
Usually you and your employer would pay your own costs if you are legally represented. Often no need, your conciliation officer should explain the ACAS COT3 terms and effects.
*Employer usually contributes to the cost of legal fees when seeking advice on the terms of the agreement.
Can only be used during a ‘live’ dispute or proceedings where ACAS can conciliate.
**Can be used at any time during your employment relationship, or after it has come to an end.
When the dispute is resolved, it may prove more practical and with less time constraints to prepare a short COT3 with the assistance of ACAS.
If the dispute is resolved, it may be more time consuming to come to a long settlement agreement and seek legal advice on the terms of the agreement.

*Usually your employer will pay for you to get legal advice regarding the terms of a settlement agreement . This is because if you sign a settlement agreement without legal advice first, you can still go to an employment tribunal.

**Although in return for the agreed payment, your employer may ask you to give up all possible future claims against the company. (Click here to read about settlement agreements).

If you don’t think you can negotiate an agreement with your employer, you can make a claim to an employment tribunal instead. Remember; if you have already agreed to an ACAS COT3 with your employer, it may have been offered ‘without admission of liability’. Your case will not be considered at a tribunal.

If you need help negotiating a settlement, contact Employment Law Friend to speak to on of our employment solicitors.

How do I negotiate a COT3 agreement

The process of getting a COT3 can be quite simple:
  • Your employer should begin by making you a ‘protected offer’, it is not yet binding.
  • ACAS are notified of the intentions to engage in a COT3.
  • ACAS officer will word the terms of the settlement on a COT3, it is now legally binding.
  • Your employer fulfils these terms.

Our employment solicitors can give COT3 advice.

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Frequently Asked Questions
A COT3 is a legally binding agreement enforced by ACAS. If your employer has not paid the full sum due, then you should contact an enforcement officer with a copy of the ACAS COT3 and an enforcement form. A warning notice will be issued to tell your employer that unless the full some be paid within 28 days, then a financial penalty will be imposed.

(Click here for the enforcement form).
You must always tell ACAS first if you want to make a claim to an employment tribunal. early conciliation may be offered, which is free, and may help you and your employer to resolve the dispute before you make a claim. If you do decide to make a claim to an employment tribunal, you do no have to pay a fee.

Do you have a problem with your COT3?
There is much more to winning your case than simply being in the right, our specialist employment solicitors know all the laws and tactics, to make sure you get the best chance at a fair settlement. We can help you negotiate a COT3 settlement, or represent you if you go to tribunal. Get in contact with us and see how we can help.

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This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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Please be advised that we are a UK company and our advice applies to employment law in England and Wales, only.
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