2019 AND CIVIL PROCEDURE, THE YEAR IN REVIEW (7): WITHDRAWING FROM ADMISSIONS (AND ANOTHER CHANCE TO PAY HOMAGE TO GUIDE DOG RALPH)
There have been relatively few cases about applications to withdraw from admissions this year. Interestingly most of them have been refusing applications to withdraw. However the main point of this post is to pay homage to Guide Dog Ralph, who featured the post on this issue in May. At that stage Ralph was critically ill. He died of cancer shortly afterwards. This had a major impact on “the human” (Ralph’s preferred term) and it has been interesting reading the difficulties there are in finding new guide dogs and the work that goes into working with a new dog. Quite how Ralph was so involved in withdrawing from admissions, I can’t remember (Ralph had his own Twitter account he was always a dog that showed an interest in the law. I’m glad of another chance to remember him.)
MARCH – EVE OF TRIAL APPLICATION TO WITHDRAW ADMISSION REFUSED
In March we looked at the decision in Freshasia Foods Ltd v Lu  EWHC 638 (Ch), a very late application to withdraw an admission.
“By an application sent by email at 11:10 on 5 March 2019, just under 48 hours before the trial commenced, Mr Jing applied for permission to amend his Defence to withdraw the admission that the provisions of the Employee Handbook had been incorporated into his contract of employment.”
“Taking all the factors into consideration, it seemed to me that the key factors were the lateness of the application and the consequent prejudice to Freshasia if Mr Jing was permitted to withdraw his admission, and accordingly permission should be refused.”
MAY: RESILING FROM ADMISSIONS ISN’T THAT EASY
In The Royal Automobile Club -v- Catherine Wright  EWHC 913 (QB) Mr Justice William Davis refused the defendant’s appeal against a decision that they were not allowed to resile from admissions.
The claimant was injured when she fell down the stairs at work. The defendant admitted liability. The defendant attempted to draw back from that admission prior to issue.
Proceedings were issued and the claimant relied on the admission. Master Davison refused permission to withdraw from that admission.
If clear and unequivocal admissions which have led to a substantial investigation of quantum and to interim payments being made apparently without question
can be withdrawn many months later, there will be real damage to the administration of justice. It undermines the basis on which parties to this type of litigation conduct themselves.
DECEMBER: PLEADINGS ARE NOT A GAME OF LUDO
Here we looked at In SL Claimants v Tesco Plc  EWHC 3312 (Ch) Mr Justice Hildyard refused an application by Tesco PLC to withdraw an admission. Tesco sought permission to withdraw an admission that it had overstated its profit.
Pleadings are not a game of Ludo. Nevertheless though I do not think it has the overwhelming, near conclusive, weight ascribed to it in the case of the applicant bank in the Aldersgate case, this factor does, in my judgment, weigh against Tesco, which allowed its admission to remain for some 32 months, and whose decision to make it I must take to have been carefully considered by highly capable and experienced Counsel and Solicitors. Where all that is relied on as a change of mind, the burden of justifying any adverse impact on the proceedings seems to me to be particularly heavy.