On November 29, 2017, California Court of Appeal published a new opinion regarding the requirements of the enforcement language in settlement agreements.
In SHAUNAK SAYTA, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. EDMUND CHU et al.,, the Court was asked to enforce a written settlement agreement. The court refused to enforce the settlement agreement because the parties failed to request retention of jurisdiction at a hearing and in the settlement agreement, before the dismissal. The court based its decision on the fact that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the motion because the language in the settlement was insufficient.
The Court concluded that the language of the settlement agreement musts state that the parties request that the court retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement. The court stated that “By its very terms, section 664.6 is limited to settlements reached in pending litigation.” (Viejo Bancorp, Inc. v. Wood (1989) 217 Cal.App.3d 200, 206 (Viejo Bancorp).) . Therefore, if you dismiss the case before the request is made, then the court loses jurisdiction.
Here the court based its conclusion that, . . . the court lost subject matter jurisdiction when the parties filed a voluntary dismissal of the entire cause. Since subject matter jurisdiction cannot be conferred by consent, waiver, or estoppel, the court cannot ‘retain’ jurisdiction it has lost.” (Viejo Bancorp, at pp. 206–207.)
The moral of the story is, that the Parties during some proceeding before a dismissal, must request that the court retain jurisdiction. This case is important for all civil, probate and trust settlements, and for attorneys to review. For probate and trusts attorneys, it appears that the court wants parties to appear, to ask the court to retain jurisdiction to enforce, and not to dismiss the case before the court makes an order retaining jurisdiction for enforcement purposes.