Lawyers and law firms gain reputations for their advocacy and their “wins” in the courtroom or before tribunals. While Cavalluzzo LLP has its share of notable victories, most often, the biggest victory for a client, for parties to litigation, for the justice system, and for the courts, are those that take place behind the scenes. Most cases settle and most cases should settle. Settlement generally better serves the parties’ interests. It makes the parties the authors of an outcome, and exercising autonomy in securing such an outcome is of significant importance to a client.
The best lawyers perform their best advocacy for their clients behind the scenes, without notice and without credit. Such behind the scenes advocacy works best when parties are assured that what is said in settlement discussions stays within that forum. This is why much of what lawyers do never sees the light of day.
The Superior Court's recent decision in Peres v Moneta Porcupine Mines Inc provides a rare peek behind the privileged settlement curtain. The decision confirms that, when parties work with counsel to settle their disputes, even what can seem like informal communications such as emails can, when done right, result in a settlement. Peres stands for the proposition that, so long as there is a meeting of the minds on essential issues, formality is not important, and courts will encourage the settlement process by readily recognizing and enforcing an alleged settlement.
Peres reveals a major and complex dispute between a former company President and his publicly traded corporate employer over termination and severance compensation.
The claim included claims for substantial stock option rights or compensation for options the former President claimed an entitlement to.
While Mr. Peres would have had little difficultly litigating this case to trial, represented by counsel, his efforts at settlement were rewarded by Justice Pinto with orders that emails exchanged by seasoned counsel during hard fought proceedings be regarded as forming a settlement agreement.
Stephen Moreau was counsel to Mr. Peres and counts amongst his professional successes many more settlements for employees of all stripes, including senior executives such as this Plaintiff. Those victories, even in highly contentious and/or highly publicized matters, remain shielded from public view, to the benefit of the parties who settled.