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Court decision not to allow the withdrawal of admissions held to be “erroneous”.

The case of Wood v Days Healthcare UK Ltd involved a wheelchair-reliant paraplegic claimant who allegedly suffered an accident whilst at work. The Defendant, Days Healthcare UK Ltd, made pre action admissions in relation to liability.

Following service of proceedings, the Claimant applied for judgment to be entered against the Defendant, however, the Defendant sought to resile from pre action admissions pursuant to CPR 14.1A. The Judge refused the Defendant permission to withdraw the admission and approved the application for summary judgment. It was held that the Defendant had been responsible for the delay between the admission being made and the withdrawal being set out, and that the withdrawal should not be granted as no new material evidence had come to light about the circumstances of the accident.

On appeal, it was held that the decision not to allow the withdrawal of admissions was erroneous and the Judge had “vitiated the exercise of her discretion”. New information had in fact come to light and the Judge had incorrectly dismissed the fact that the claim had been presented initially as a fast-track claim, involving less than £25,000, had subsequently become a claim in excess of £300,000. As a result of the appeal decision, the Order made by the Court of First Instance was set aside and permission was granted for the Defendant to withdraw its admissions.

Despite this decision, it must be said that withdrawing from admissions is neither simple nor commonplace. Once an admission is made it is very difficult to resile from this position and defendants must therefore ensure that all investigations are speedy and comprehensive, to avoid this situation occurring during the litigation process.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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