Liability is admitted

Liability is admitted – can I relax?

The defendant has admitted liability, or the insurance company for the Defendant has admitted liability.

Admitting liability is quite common in personal injury compensation case. The Claimant and their representatives relax as the fight is cancelled, and all that is necessary is to sort out the compensation.

What might surprise you is that an admission made before Court proceedings can be withdrawn. Court rules are in place to mange the position where the parties do not agree to the withdrawal of an admission of liability. A further surprise is that a Defendant withdrawing does not have to show that new evidence has been discovered.

The position was recently dealt with by the Court of Appeal in a case called Annie Rachel Woodland (by her father and litigation friend Ian Woodland) and (1) Beryl Stopford (2) Deborah Maxwell (3) The Swimming Teachers Association



This was a complicated case which involved a number of parties the issue being the supervision of young children having swimming lessons at their school. Liability was admitted by loss adjusters, professional investigators, but when solicitors later became involved they reappraised the evidence and thought the admission of liability was wrong. The Court has a wide discretion based on several factors which I will summarise too concisely by saying that each party is entitled to a fair hearing of their case.

The Court of Appeal in the Woodland v Stopford case accepted the Judge had properly weighed up the case and found no reason to overturn the decision. An appeal Court is not there to rehear a case, it is there to check a decision was not outside the bounds of the law. A tough decision based on the correct principles will be upheld on appeal.

So what does this mean? In a case where a liability of admission is made it is usual for the Claimant’s solicitor to do no further work on the question of liability, or fault. It is unnecessary, and the legal costs will not be recovered from the Defendant.

So the surprising position is that an admission of liability in a personal injury compensation case can be withdrawn. It is not just a matter for the Defendant as a Court may be involved, but the Court discretion is so wide that the change of position could well be upheld.

Why is an admission made, and then withdrawn. Insurance companies will always look at the potential value of the compensation and they place a “reserve” on the case. A “reserve” is the amount of money an insurance company hypothetically sets aside to pay compensation in the case. How much time and expense an insurance company puts into a case will depend heavily on the reserve for compensation. If a case is worth £5,000 much less expense is worthwhile when compared with a case ten times the value.

Insurance companies also like to keep the legal costs as low as possible. An early admission of liability means the Claimant’s solicitors are not running up a big bill investigation a case. The insurance company will hope to settle the case without Court proceedings, so it controls the legal costs of the Claimant solicitors and does not have to instruct its own solicitors.

The most common reason to withdraw an admission of liability is where new evidence comes to light. A new witness, an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, or the possibility of insurance fraud are all reasons for withdrawal of the admission of liability.

The change of position usually arises when the defendant case passes into new hands, and the instruction of solicitors after the service of Court proceedings is the usual time. This factor has to be borne in mind when issuing Court proceedings.

Another vital issue is that even when liability s admitted the Defendant can still argue a Claimant is partially to blame. Contributory negligence is the correct term for partial blame, and this is considered elsewhere on this site so please click here.

You might ask is nothing straightforward? Good question to which the answer is you must have experienced advice on your side in a personal injury compensation claim.

Call for help without obligation on 01392 314086

Author: Mark Thompson

Personal injury and accident specialist solicitor

13 thoughts on “Liability is admitted”

  1. FAO; Mark Thompson
    Appreciate your advice, and your clarity
    also your web site is very helpful 10/10
    as your advice was offered without prior booking , I have made a donation to your chosen charity , Unicef, Ukrainian children refugee
    thank you

  2. Can you please tell me what happens after the company I’m suing admits liability I have been given appointment for physical therapy
    And after my private medical check over how fast fo things go after that
    Also can you tell me what kind of compensation I might be looking at as I can’t find any information about it online thank you

  3. I slipped over at work I didn’t go to the hospital to get an xray as I didn’t know what I had done I tried to get an appointment at the doctors but they told me go home and a doctor will all you
    The doctor called my I explained what happened and what and where my pain was and the doctor said I had fractured my tailbone I asked him about going for an xray and I was told there was no need as it’s A look like broken ribs and they can’t do anything about it
    So he said we will just give u medication
    I have sued the company and they have admitted liability
    So I called the solicitors and spoke to the claim handler and he was a little unpleasant to talk to and said I should of gone and had an xray and that he will be sending me for one but my injury is almost healed
    So does that mean my case will fail now

    1. Most compensation cases are based on medical expert advice, often obtained after the recovery of the injury. I do not see your case is out of the ordinary.

  4. Hi I was in a accident as passenger on a bus, the insurance company admitted liability, but not causation, I’ve been to a independent doctor, and orthopaedic specialist, who confirm my injuries, are due to the accident. So can they still refuse causation ?.

    1. The defendant does not have to admit liability or accept causation. I have seen cases fought to trial, with both liability and causation still denied, but those cases will often settle. By not accepting causation, the defendant is reserving the right to argue about the extent of the injury which is caused by the negligence of the party they insure. I would say, in the vast majority of cases, causation is not accepted, so do not be concerned.

  5. Hello Mr Mark,
    I slipped on wet floor while carrying heavy metal equipment in my workplace and there was not any wet floor sign put out. As a result i fractured my spine and its severe injury, according to medical report its a permanent injury {im disable according to law recommended by spinal surgeon} and could need operation in the future. I suffered depression and took more then two years to get beck to work again, all the medical report in my favor and completed CBT therapy sessions lately. My solicitor submitted the claim with 23 days deadline and have not heard anything from defendant yet although liability was admitted. what r the chances for me to win the case? In terms of shared liability the place was a restaurant and the management does not follow any health and safety standards or do not bother to train employees to follow the health and safety standards.
    I have been asking for interim payments to my solicitors and they are keep refusing to get me something, rather my barrister wants to go for full settlements and I am struggling very badly. As everything is submitted can they now give me an interim payments although im working long hours with my pain as i need money and can’t carry on working like this as its affecting my mood and mental health.

    now, if this goes to the court, what are the time frame for the court hearing as i can’t play anymore waiting game because im on the edge of life with empty pockets.


    1. Making a claim for injury after an accident does not automatically entitle you to an interim payment.
      An interim payment might be paid voluntarily by a defendant if liability for your accident is admitted. You can only insist on an interim payment once court proceedings have been issued and served. You must show liability is admitted, or your case is bound to win. The interim payment will usually cover only financial loss to date.

  6. I am currently in a personal injury claim. Liabilty has been admitted and their first offer rejected now court proceedings are going ahead but they are defending the claim amount will i win ?

    1. It is quite common for all aspects of a case to be defended, even when the defendant intends to settle the claim.
      Whether you will win or not depends on the strength of your case, which your solicitors should advise you about.

  7. I fell in a work carpark, company admits liability all being dealt with does it mean the case is won ??? Recently had surgery to repair damage to my shoulder.

    1. An admission of liability is often made by a Defendant through its insurer. An admission can be withdrawn but this is getting rarer, so you are home and dry on the question of fault with one twist. Even where liability is admitted the Defendant can still argue you were contributorily negligent. The usual argument goes that we accept the defect in the surface was our fault, but you should have seen it. Contributory negligence is explained here.

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