Colchester have been told they must pay an initial fee of £45,000 to Dagenham & Redbridge for defender Magnus Okuonghae.
A Football League tribunal made the ruling and have also decided that the figure could rise to £80,000 depending on appearances and if the Us earn promotion over the next two seasons.
The 23-year-old Okuonghae turned down the offer of a new deal with the Daggers to join Colchester, but because of his age the League Two side were entitled to compensation.
"The process was productive and the whole procedure was run very professionally," said Colchester chief executive Steve Bradshaw.
"It feels like a fair reflection of his value given the fact that, while having been very impressive last season, it was his first full league campaign from start to finish."
Okuonghae, 23, enjoyed an impressive debut for the Us on Saturday as they ran out 7-1 winners at Norwich.