The court had to decide whether it was fair for an insurance company who had admitted liability for a road accident to then take back their admission after the claim increased into the millions in Blake v Croasdale.
The claimant was a passenger in a car chase against the police when the driver swerved onto the wrong side of the road and killed an oncoming driver. The insurer admitted primary liability and offered £100,000. However following a medical report, the claim increased to between £3-5m at which point the insurers applied to withdraw their admission claiming ‘ex turpa’ – that the accident was based on illegal activity. In this case the court allowed this as they concluded that the insurers could never have thought that the claim would get to such a significant fee.
Admissions of liability are binding and can only be withdrawn with consent from the other parties (extremely unlikely!) or with the court’s permission, which is inevitably very time consuming and costly. It is therefore important to consider the potential implications before making any admissions or even making an apology as this could be taken as an admission and used as evidence later in the case.