PI Practitioner – each issue a particular topic is highlighted, citing some of the useful cases and other materials in that area

Contributory Negligence & Admissions of Liability

An admission of liability does not preclude the Defendant from making arguments about contributory negligence or causation. It was set out in Pitts v Hunt [1991] 1 QB 24 (and confirmed in Anderson v Newham College of Further Education [2002] EWCA Civ 505; [2003] I.C.R. 212) that it is not possible to make a finding of 100% contributory negligence because the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945 comes into operation only when there is fault on the part of both parties. This means that contributory negligence operates only as a partial defence.

In Maes Finance Limited v A Phillips & Co (Times, March 25, 1997) it was held that during an assessment of damages after default judgment had been entered “[t]he defendant cannot thereafter contend that his acts or omissions were not causative of any loss to the plaintiff. But he may still be able to argue, on the assessment, that they were not causative of any particular items of alleged loss … a contributory negligence plea will fail if the plaintiff’s “fault” cannot be shown to be causative of any of the damage for which recovery is sought.” [emphasis added]. This was subsequently approved in Lunnun v Singh (Times July 19, 1999).

The cases above mean that to deny liability for the accident entirely, after an admission of liability, the Defendant must resile from the admission (under rr 14.1 or 14.1A). However an admission of liability does not preclude a Defendant from arguing that there was contributory negligence on the part of the Claimant.

October 4, 2013 · Editorial Team · Comments Closed
Posted in: News