How to Help Your Settlement Get Government Approval
Tom Petty will likely be forever remembered by plaintiff's lawyers for one reason, and one reason alone ... wait for it ... wait for it ... the wai-ai-ting is the hardest part. And if you've ever had to wait for a government entity to approve your plaintiff's settlement, you've likely wanted to slap every person after the first who sang those lyrics to you.
However, before you start the waiting game known as settlement limbo, there are a few things you can do to help make your agreement more agreeable to the entity that has to approve it.
Always provide deadlines. But, just like a settlement demand that needs entity approval, don't put a deadline on the approval that will expire before the next session. Yes, you want the case to move forward, but dealing with government entities requires a little consideration for those sensitive bureaucrats. The last thing you want is a technicality causing a delay, and bureaucrats are known for holding things up due to technicalities.
Usually, settlement discussions and agreement ratifications are done in closed door sessions. This means that simple mistake might not get fixed until the next session, which might not be for a little while.
If you worked out specific terms, do not deviate from those terms, even if you highlight those extremely minor changes on a coversheet. Unless you are patient enough to wait for the next session, do not change any of the terms that were agreed to between you and the government's counsel.
Shut Your Media-Speaking Mouth
If you have a settlement agreement awaiting approval, don't say a thing to the media. Don't even return calls to say no comment. It doesn't matter if your case is the most interesting case in the world about the most interesting man in the world suing the most interesting government in the world for infringing upon some of the most interesting intellectual property rights in the world ... if you talk to the media before there is wet ink on the settlement agreement, you're taking a foolish, potentially selfish risk that could haunt you worse than questionable shellfish.
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