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Mike Myers
Mike Myers
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Civil Rule No. 2 (Boring)/Civil Rule 2A (At the Center of Numerous Conflicts)

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Civil Rule 2 is probably the least interesting out of the 86 Civil Rules. It reads:

There shall be one form of action to be known as "civil action."

Wow.

Fortunately there is also Civil Rule 2A. It’s more exciting…and is frequently in the middle of headed conflicts in personal injury cases.

Rule 2A reads:

No agreement or consent between parties or attorneys in respect to the proceedings in a cause, the purport of which is disputed, will be regarded by the court unless the same shall have been made and assented to in open court on the record, or entered in the minutes, or unless the evidence thereof shall be in writing and subscribed by the attorneys denying the same.

Rule 2A rears its head with alarming frequency in the context of settlement negotiations/agreements. In Washington it’s effectively impossible to make enforce a verbal settlement agreement. That’s why it’s so important (for instance, at a mediation) to make sure that settlement agreements are reduced to writing and signed by the parties.

Do you think that verbal settlement agreement should be binding? Most verbal contracts (other than settlement agreements) are binding. So why not agreements between parties in litigation? Do you think there are some policy reasons (related to the charged atmosphere) that makes agreements made during a lawsuit different than agreements in the regular course of business?