Will a “confidentiality clause” protect me?

Maybe, maybe not.  To be sure, if you are settling a controversial matter, you may well want to insert a confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement. Such a clause would say that the parties will confine knowledge of the settlement to themselves and will not disclose the details to third parties  But note:  the clause by itself will not be an absolute guarantee of secrecy.  If the case involves a public employee, a public agency, or a public issue, the details may be of interest to a newspaper or to the taxpayers who may well have a right to learn the facts.  If the confidentially clause is challenged in court, it will be weighed against the public’s “right to know.”  The case law in some instances indicates that confidentiality clauses are void as against public policy in certain cases, especially where persons are obligated to report wrongdoing to other administrative agencies (i.e., when a school superintendent has an obligation to report misconduct to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing).  So while it is indeed helpful to have a confidentiality clause, there is no guarantee it will have the effect of keeping the settlement behind closed doors. (Relevant case law:  Sanchez v. County of San Bernardino, 176 Cal.App.4th 516 (2009);  BRV v. Superior Court, 143 Cal.App.4th 742 (2006); Cariveau v. Halferty, 83 Cal.App.4th 126 (2000); Picton v. Anderson Union High School Dist., 50 Cal.App.4th 726 (1996).)

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