NHS Admissions affect Access to Justice for Claimants.

Master Lisa Sullivan
February 8, 2023 Michael 0 Comments

Somoye v North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust [2023] EWHC 191 (KB) (06 February 2023)

A fascinating case in which an NHS admission of liability was sought to be withdrawn close to the time that proceedings were issued. In reaching judgment on this specific issue Master Sullivan set out the law and it’s application.

The Law

The court has a discretion whether to give permission for a pre-action admission to be withdrawn. PD 14 paragraph 7.2 states:

In deciding whether to give permission for an admission to be withdrawn, the court will have regard to all the circumstances of the case, including –

(a) the grounds upon which the applicant seeks to withdraw the admission including whether or not new evidence has come to light which was not available at the time the admission was made;

(b) the conduct of the parties, including any conduct which led the party making the admission to do so;

(c) the prejudice that may be caused to any person if the admission is withdrawn;

(d) the prejudice that may be caused to any person if the application is refused;

(e) the stage in the proceedings at which the application to withdraw is made, in particular in relation to the date or period fixed for trial;

(f) the prospects of success (if the admission is withdrawn) of the claim or part of the claim in relation to which the admission was made; and

(g) the interests of the administration of justice.”

The factors are not listed in any hierarchical sense. Each must be given due weight and along with all the circumstances of the case and a balance must be struck to achieve the overriding objective. I should of course, especially when considering the prospects of success, avoid a mini trial. I will deal with the parties’ submission in respect of each in turn and then put all relevant matters in the balance to reach my conclusion. [28]


This judgment was handed down remotely at 12.00 noon on 6 February 2023 by circulation to the parties or their representatives by e-mail and by release to the National Archives.


In my judgment, weighing the different factors in the balance and taking account of the circumstance of the case, the defendant should be held to their admission and I do not give permission for it to be withdrawn. Whilst the fact that the defendant at this stage has a realistic defence is a strong factor in favour of giving permission it seems to me to be outweighed by the conduct and prejudice issues discussed above. [60]

In the circumstances I will refuse permission to withdraw the admission and give judgment for the claimant for damages to be assessed. [61]


This is one of those judgments that you cannot predict as you read through the text. Not until the actual final paragraphs do you find out which way Master Sullivan is leaning. This is in contrast to many judgments which can progress predictably towards their inevitable conclusion at times. This is not meant as either praise of one or criticism of another – merely an observation.

Read the full judgment

Interview with Master Lisa Sullivan.

NHS Admissions affect Access to Justice for Claimants. was last modified: February 8th, 2023 by Michael

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