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In Lindner v. American Express Corporation,No. 06 Civ. 3834 (JGK), Slipop., 2007 WL 1623119 (June 5, 2007),Judge John Koeltl of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently had occasion to review the basic principles of NewYork law governing the enforceability ofsettlement agreements. The case arosein the context of a motion to enforce asettlement that allegedly had been agreedupon during a settlement conference withthe court but never reduced to a formalexecuted agreement.

While the principles are not unfamiliar,the court’s decision provides a usefulrefresher of the ground rules for counselto keep in mind during settlementdiscussions — whatever the context — toavoid potentially binding their client toa settlement prematurely, or, conversely,potentially losing the benefit of a favorablesettlement. Familiarity with New Yorklaw in this area is particularly worthwhilein this day of increasingly informal andrapid communications, via e-mail andotherwise.

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