Newham London Borough Council v Arboleda-Quiceno QBD (Lambert J) 31/07/2019

In 2015, the Claimant injured his knee whilst playing football on an AstroTurf pitch in the local authority’s recreational grounds. He alleged in a pre-action letter that the injury had occurred due to a hole in the AstroTurf, and that the Defendant had breached its duty of care by inadequate inspection and maintenance of the pitches. The Claimant’s injuries included a fractured tibia and ongoing pain. It was stated that the Claimant required an arthroscopy and further investigation. The estimated value was in excess of £50,000. The Defendant’s insurer corresponded with the Claimant, and admitted liability. In 2018, particulars of claim and a schedule of loss were filed, claiming nearly £3 million due to chronic pain, unemployment, ongoing disability and the potential need for future surgery. The local authority applied to withdraw the admission, and denied liability on the basis that the claim was fundamentally dishonest. It was alleged that the Claimant had jumped and landed awkwardly, and that the accident had happened on a different pitch from the one alleged by the Claimant.

The Master considered the application on the papers, and applied the factors set out in CPR PD 14 para 7.2. She found that prejudice to the Claimant and the interests of the administration of justice supported a rejection of the application for withdrawal. She also found that whilst the local authority’s defence of fundamental dishonesty had a realistic prospect of success, the evidence supporting it was weak and contained inconsistencies. Further, she found that the Claimant’s claim had not fundamentally changed since the pre-action letter. It was not different in size or character, notwithstanding the amount claim being increased. On this basis the Master refused the Defendant permission to withdraw the pre-action admission by its insurer. The Defendant appealed.

October 10, 2019 · Editorial Team · Comments Closed
Posted in: Cases