Withdrawing Admissions When Claim Value Shoots Up

The potential problems with the different personal injury claims tracks arises from time to time. In a recent case, an initially low value claim significantly increased in value before proceedings were started. We look at the case, and the court’s approach.

This case[1] involved an application to withdraw admissions that were made in an initially low value personal injury claim - but where the value increased considerably.

What’s the background?
The claimant initially indicated that her claim was expected to fall within the fast track (ie. limited in value to £25,000). Some weeks later, the first defendant’s loss adjusters (D) admitted liability. However, the value of the claim later increased dramatically, and when proceedings were eventually started, the claim was for more than £300,000.

D reviewed its initial admission of liability and decided to withdraw its admission on discovery of certain material (an MHRA Adverse Incident Report) which had not seen earlier. However, this Report had, in fact, been readily available when D admitted liability, but the loss adjusters had not seen it.

D therefore applied to withdraw its pre-action admission under CPR r14.1A. At the hearing, the claimant successfully applied for summary judgment against another defendant.

At issue was whether the admission of liability could be withdrawn in light of various factors that had come to light/occurred since the admission was made. The High Court dismissed the application, and D appealed.

In his judgment, David LJ gives a useful overview of the relevant legal principles, particularly that under Practice Direction 14, the court must have regard to all the circumstances of the case, including whether new evidence has come to light which was not available at the time of the admission.

What did the Court of Appeal decide?
The CA disagreed with the decision of Laing J to refused D’s application to withdraw the admission on the basis that the increase in value was not good reason to allow it. It said it was wrong to ignore so significant an increase in value of the claim, describing it as “highly material new evidence”.

Laing J had also said that D had taken a calculated risk that the claim may increase in value to the extent it did, but again – the CA disagreed. If facing a claim reasonably considered to be worth less than £25,000, an increase of a few thousand pounds “perhaps may be an acceptable and foreseeable “inherent risk.” But a ten-fold increase, to over £300,000, is surely another thing altogether”.

David LJ commented: “The judge’s stark approach – that a risk of increase in quantum is inherent in any such claim – would in my view tend to discourage speedy admission of liability in (then) small claims; admissions made having regard to considerations of saving costs and of proportionality.” If a substantial increase in value was not sufficient reason to withdraw an earlier admission, it would tend to discourage parties for fear of a subsequent withdrawal of admission of liability being refused”. The whole purpose, after all, of the Personal Injury Protocol was to facilitate a process where the parties have an incentive on grounds of proportionality can speedily settle their claims.

The Court also said that the judge was wrong to disregard the fact that judgment had been entered against another defendant. The fact that summary judgment had been entered against it was a relevant factor, and Laing J’s failure to take this into account vitiated her decision.

David LJ asked (rhetorically): “What real prejudice would the claimant suffer if [D’s] admission of liability were withdrawn when she in any event had a judgment on liability against D2?”

And what of the MHRA report that had been available at the time of the admission? Whilst this was not “new evidence on liability, in the sense that the report existed at the time and [the loss adjusters] failed … with due diligence to ask for it or consider it, the fact is – albeit due to their own oversight – they did not see it”. The defendant would not have admitted liability had they seen it. This factor also made the finding of a "calculated" risk being taken difficult to sustain. The decision was made in error, albeit a self-induced error.

The appeal was allowed, and D was given permission to withdraw the admission. The Court also urged the parties to resolve the proceedings with a “more speedy, pragmatic and proportionate approach … than thus far seems to be evident”

[1] Wood v Days Healthcare UK Limited [2017] EWCA Civ 2097



Back to the SOLICITORS group News

Media Centre

“The Solicitors Group online directory is an established and respected channel for legal professionals, meaning I can talk to my existing and future customers about products and services both quickly and easily.”

Carole Hatton
Marketing Manager
Landmark Information Group

“Reaching our niche market can sometimes be challenging, however we find promoting our legal training courses on www.thesolicitorsgroup.co.uk an excellent way of contacting both existing and new customers. The service we receive from The Solicitors Group is both professional and relevant to our core activities and we would recommend their services to others.”


“I must say that to date we have been very pleased with the referrals we are getting from your site.”

Paul West
Orchid Cellmark

“The Newsdesk feature on www.thesolicitorsgroup.co.uk is ideal for us. Its prominent location on the site provides a great platform to communicate key messages to existing and potential clients.”

Neil Phillips
Marketing Manager
Countrywide Legal Indemnities

"We are very happy with the referrals we are getting from The Solicitors Group web-site."

C.A. Bishop
Technical Director
Wickham Laboratories Ltd

“We received 419 click-throughs to our site from advertising with www.thesolicitorsgroup.co.uk”

Legal Prospects

“Putting myself in my potential client's shoes, I consider www.thesolicitorsgroup.co.uk to offer perhaps the clearest and most user-friendly listing of expert witnesses, especially in its choice of index terms.”

Ivan Vince
ASK Consultants

“The banner ad looks great”

Samantha Dawson
The Bundle Business Limited

“The Solicitors Group has been fantastic in helping us to raise awareness about bowel cancer, which kills 16,000 people every year in the UK. Bowel Cancer UK aims to save lives by raising awareness of bowel cancer, campaigning for best treatment and care and providing practical support and advice. Without the support of organisations such as the Solicitors Group we would be unable to carry out this vital work. We are very grateful to the team at the Solicitors Group for their support and assistance.”

Tamara Matthews
Legacy Officer
Bowel Cancer UK

“As a result of Law London, we have registered 208 new companies/firms to the website, generating £20,797 GWP to date, as well as reinforcing our presence in this very profitable marketplace.”


“The event was well put together and executed, and the traffic of potential customers for us was high. We had a number of enquiries regarding our services after the event and we feel our attendance there was important to our overall brand exposure. We feel a Law event of this size without Euromoney Legal Training present could potentially be hurtful to us as a business. We would recommend you to attend and shall ourselves be there again in 2008.”


“Many thanks for the prompt service.”

Martin Gibbs MBE
Director / Investigator
Griffin Forensics Ltd

“A targeted email to key customers is an invaluable method of communication, endorse this with the Solicitors Group branding, relevant editorial content and you have created a winning combination! We look forward to reading the next edition.”

Carole Hatton
Marketing Manager
Landmark Information Group

“Talking directly to Property Lawyers is critical to us as they are key customers or potentially could be for all of our products, The Solicitors Group offer a perfect solution to get our messages right to the right people”

Carole Hatton
Marketing Manager
Landmark Information Group

“Thank you for having a useful and informative site, it is good to see a comprehensive and friendly portal.”

Stefan Fann
UK Probate Services

“Cadogans aims to keep its brand image in front of lawyers who may be looking for engineering experts. A check on Google analytics showed that referrals to our website from The Solicitors Group website were above average.”

Daphne Wassermann
Technical Director