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Writing good agreements and decisions

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Purpose

A well written agreement or decision supports compliance and prevents new disputes.

Solutions summary

It is important that any written agreement or decision accurately reflects what was said or meant. This gives parties clear instruction on what is expected. There are not yet many agreed standards for what a good settlement agreement looks like. The following practices have been described. They can also be used as guidelines when a decision is taken by a third party. At a minimum, an agreement or decision should contain:
  • Information about the parties: name, address, day of birth.
  • Short description of the dispute: the dispute is about....
  • Description solutions: To solve this dispute, the parties have agreed....
  • Description of the agreed actions and a timeline:
    • Party A will.... before ....
    • Party B will.... on ....
    • If there are more parties, list all
  • Signatures of the parties, date, location
  • Name and signature of the facilitator, witnesses to the agreement, third parties.
  • What happens when there is a problem with compliance? How parties will solve any new disputes. Who they will go to, what they will do.
Options for Improving agreement, so that it is more likely to be complied with:
  • Use simple words, so that the agreement is easy to understand. 
  • Make clear what the interests of each of the parties are. And why what has been agreed is the solution. This can be taken from the map of the dispute (see Tool 1.5). Option: add the map of the dispute to the agreement. Or write the agreed solutions on the map.
  • Have each of the parties state what the problem was, what they will change in their behavior and why this is important to them. This declaration can be done:
    • As part of the written agreement
    • In the presence of witnesses like family members or influential people (Tool 4.2) or other authorities
    • In public
  • Check that the solutions are realistic. Is it really possible for all parties to do what they agreed?
  • Add concerns that parties may have in relation to the agreement. Also, ways to address these concerns.
  • Add reasons why this outcome is seen as fair and just. You can refer to law, tradition, religion in the agreement. And state them orally when agreement is stated in public by parties.
  • Make sure it is clear what should happen: when, what, how much?
  • Include other items that make compliance more likely, see Tool 5.4.
  • Actions to be taken in case there is a violation 
  • Read through the agreement with the parties. Make sure they understand everything in it. Allow time for reflection and questions.
  • Below is an example of an agreement layout that you might like to use: Example Agreement

Local solution: Conference Comments

Conference votes: 17

Avoid insertng blaming language in the agreement. This can trigger the parties to look back instead of forward. Describe the problem in a way which corresponds with the agreements reached by the parties. The agreed duties and obligations of each party are illustrated in deep detail.

 

Adding thumb-prints, stamps and signatures can increase the authority and compliance with agreements.

Below is a scanned copy of a Cambodian Agreement:

 

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Added by: CONFERENCE

Local solution: How to write a Settlement Agreement

It is usual, once the parties come to a common agreement that suits both parties, they request the lawyer or facilitator to draft a settlement agreement. Praxis lawyers refer to this agreement frequently in their practice. In most cases, they even initiate and suggest to the parties to ensure sustainability and longevity of the agreement. This agreement also reminds the parties on their promise and what they have undertaken in relation to each other and third parties.

The settlement agreement is not only a regulating and a reminding document, but also serves as a psychological barrier for the parties in case either of them wish to violate the undertaken promises. Written settlement agreement allows the parties to see and remember to what they have agreed to and what actions and what happens in case the terms and conditions of the settlement is not respected.

The settlement agreement contains info on the background and substance of the settlement, obligations of the parties towards each other and actions to be taken in case there is a violation. The agreement may also include a provision on the role of the third party in case of infringement of the agreement. Settlement agreement is based on the social norms and does not constitute a binding legal document. Successful implementation of the settlement agreement in practice would increase trust between parties as preparation of this document is based on the voluntary principle and reflects a good will. 

How:

Lawyer or facilitator shall mention the terms and conditions achieved between parties in the settlement agreement in a consequently order. The issue causing the problem between parties shall be specified in the document. It is also useful to indicate which party initiated what condition or obligation in the settlement agreement.

Date, place, signature of the parties, addresses shall be indicated as well. Names of the relatives and witnesses who took part in the settlement negotiations and agreement shall also be indicated in the document. Besides, they may also put their signatures in the settlement agreement.

Duration of the agreement shall also be specified. In other words, parties shall mention timeframe within which they shall carry out their obligations undertaken by the settlement agreement. There might be terms or conditions that are not fully but partially agreed between parties. In this case, a special explanation or provision shall be included in the agreement document by lawyer or facilitator. This shall include what issues are partially settled and what are the main reasons for this partial and not full settlement of the issue. 

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Added by: Praxis

Local solution: Prommisary note MHS

 

Promissory Note:

 

Name of facilitator:

 

Date:

Case of:

 

 

 

Name:

 

 

 

Age:

 

 

 

Sex:

 

 

Address:

 

 

 

UN number:

vs.

 

Name:

 

 

 

Age:

 

 

 

Sex:

 

 

Address:

 

 

 

UN number:

Name and address of Survivor

Name and address of accused

     

 

Description of case

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Interest

Disputant…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Accused……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concerns

 

Disputant…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Accused……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

 

Agreement

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

If a party breach an agreement for……………time(s ).The party has to

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

The  facilitator will go visit both parties again in………………month(s)to talk about  the agreement and to see the progress of the case.

 

Facilitator’s name(SL’s name):………………………………..

Position:……………………………….

Signature :……………………………….

Date :………………………………..

 

 

 

 

 

Disputant(name):………………………………..                 Disputant(name):………………………………..

Signature:………………………………..                               Signature:………………………………..

Date:………………………………..                                         Date:………………………………..

 

 

Witness(name):………………………………..                    Witness(name):………………………………..

Signature:………………………………..                               Signature:………………………………..

Date:………………………………..                                         Date:………………………………..

 

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Added by: IRC

Local solution: How to write a Settlement Agreement

 

The agreement must contain

a)                   General Information Parties:
- Name
- Address
- Birthday

b)                   General Information Agreement:
- Date
- Location of signs
- Signature Parties

Explicit information
- The aim of the agreement
(So ​​explicitly: the parties have agreed that ... and they wish to capture through this agreement)
- What arrangements are made so as who does what;
- Time limits within which appointments must be fulfilled
- Duties and forth
- Jurisdiction and within any one area
- Which court has jurisdiction to hear case of any dispute
- Any attachments

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Added by: DAS

Local solution: a good agreement

An agreement must be written in summary of result from the mediation process to prevent potential conflict in the future. There should be a form of agreement with a number of information as follow:

  • Date of mediation and implementation
  • Important points/issues that parties have agreed
  • Parties and witnesses sign or thump printing on the agreement
  • If possible involve village or commune authorities in the agreement
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Added by: ADHOC

Evidence from practice

Promissory notes: It is common practices for example of the Karen facilitators in North Thailand to conclude a dispute resolution with a promissory note in which parties state what they will change in their behaviour.

Agreement format: Many NGO’s in for example in Cambodia and Rwanda work with formats for agreements to make sure all elements are included and the work process is efficient

 

Evidence from literature

  • Encourage the parties to agree to a cooling off period before signing an agreement and to include a cooling off clause in their agreement, allowing a party to rescind the agreement during a short period after it was made
Conflict Resolution Consortium, University of Colorado, ‘Cooling-Off Periods’ International Online Program on Intractable Conflict,
www.colorado.edu /conflict/peace/treatment/cooloff.htm 

10 essential elements of good agreements:

  • a statement on intent and vision: what do parties want to achieve individually and together?
  • Roles: What is the role of each party to make it a success?
  • Promises; what does each party promise to do?
  • Time and value: when and for how much money?
  • Measurement of satisfaction: when will parties be satisfied?
  • Concerns and fears: what may go wrong?
  • Renegotiation:  What will parties do when this happens?
  • Consequences: What can be consequences if a party doesn't keep his or her promise?
  • Conflict resolution: If parties get into conflict, how will they try to solve it?
  • Agreement: Signatures to proof that there is a real agreement.
The book of Agreement, Levine, S 2002

Writing good agreements and decisions

by admin on April 11, 2011

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