For the most part, contract negotiations conducted through emails are not unique. Certain nuances aside, they are subject to the same rules and principles that have long governed other types of communications, and they are more like letters than like back-of-the-courtroom bickering. This is just something that modern attorneys simply must come to terms with. Yet some practitioners still regard emails, even between opposing counsel, as informal and inconsequential. As a matter of etiquette, that may sometimes prove true (perhaps unfortunately). But as a matter of law, it overwhelmingly does not, even in the context of negotiating settlements.
A recent case in Westchester County Supreme Court provides a good example of why it is important to treat all settlement negotiations, even those conducted over email, as serious and potentially binding.