The Claimant was paraplegic and relied on a motorised
wheelchair. The Claimant asserted that in October 2009 her chair
malfunctioned causing her to be propelled forward and suffer
significant injury. The Claimant brought a Claim against a
number of defendants, including D1, the chair manufacturers.
Prior to issue of proceedings, D1 admitted liability through its
loss adjustors. However, D1 subsequently realised that another
Defendant had fitted new components on the chair. D1 therefore
sought to withdraw its admission claiming that the chair was no
longer the same chair that it had supplied.
The Court refused to allow D1 permission to withdraw its
admission. The Court considered the following in reaching its
it appeared that the real ground for D1's application to
withdraw its admission was that the Claim had increased in value
since D1 had admitted liability. However, the Court considered that
this was a risk inherent in any personal injury claim, which did
not justify D1 withdrawing its admission.
D1 had made the admission after having inspected
the chair. If D1 had taken reasonable steps to investigate, it
would have discovered that modifications had been made after the
chair had been supplied to the Claimant.
D1 had delayed considerably before indicating its
intention to withdraw from its admission and both the Claimant and
D2 would be prejudiced by its withdrawal.
D1 still had a reasonable prospect of defending the Claim
and in any event, could bring a contribution claim against its
The fact that summary judgment had been obtained against
another defendant was not a reason to allow withdrawal of the
The Court held that if D1 had conducted
reasonable investigations in the first place, it would not
have made any admissions.
This case demonstrates the importance of thorough
investigation of a Claim and careful consideration of the
appropriate response by defendants before any admissions are made.
If it becomes apparent during the course of pre-action
investigations that the picture is incomplete, or that evidence may
be missing, the importance of a carefully considered response
cannot be overstated. Although it remains possible to defend a
Claim where admissions have previously been made, any subsequent
defence is likely to lose credibility.
In the recent decision in Joyce Whitfield v Revenue & Customs Commissioners  UKFTT 685 (TC) the Tribunal considered that inflexible and disproportionate behaviour by a party's legal representative...
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