The effect of admissions on allocation – Akhtar -v- Boland  EWCA Civ 872
In Akhtar the Court of Appeal considered how an admission made by the Defendant to part of a claim, affected allocation under CPR 26.
- Following a road traffic accident the Claimant claimed damages of £6,392.80, pleaded at more than £5,000 but less than £10,000. There was no personal injury claim.
- The Defendant filed a Defence admitting hire, recovery and storage charges in the sum of £2,496, pleading specifically that as the claim now fell under £5000 (the limit for the small claims track at that time) it should be allocated as a small claim.
- Following AQs the claim was allocated to the small claims track by the District Judge.
- The Claimant made an application to have the claim reallocated to the fast track. The District Judge refused the Claimant’s application but awarded damages against the Defendant at £2496 as pleaded.
- The Claimant appealed, arguing that the Defence had not contained admissions, but only offers, and that all sums would be contested at trial. In fact whilst the Defence had stated that hire recovery and storage charges were admitted at £2496, the Defence later put the Claimant to proof over the same.
- This argument was rejected by the Court of Appeal, and guidance to admissions was given as follows:
- The District Judge had interpreted the defence as including an unqualified admission that the claimant was entitled to the amount of £2496.
- Consequently, this admission was binding. The court had no jurisdiction to investigate a fact that has been admitted, unless the party making the admission obtains the permission of the court and withdraws the admission under CPR 14.1(5).
- This principle applied even more strongly to a judgment. Neither party may adduce evidence or make submissions that would lead to decisions or findings inconsistent with the judgment, unless a successful application was made to set the judgment aside.
- Where there was judgment for part of a claim, the Claimant was entitled to pursue the balance.
- In considering allocation, CPR 26 applied, after the Claimant had obtained his judgment:
(1) In considering whether to allocate a claim to the normal track for that claim under rule 26.6, the court will have regard to the matters mentioned in rule 26.8(1).
Matters relevant to allocation to a track
(1) When deciding the track for a claim, the matters to which the court shall have regard include –
(a) the financial value, if any, of the claim;
(c) the likely complexity of the facts, law or evidence.
(2) It is for the court to assess the financial value of a claim and in doing so it will disregard –
(a) any amount not in dispute;
Once the court had determined that the defendant accepted that the claimant was entitled to judgment in the sum of £2,496, the only sum in dispute was the balance of the claim, which was less than £5,000.