Admissions of fact

What are admissions?

Admissions are statements, whether express or implied, whether oral or written, which are wholly or partly adverse to a party’s case. Admissions may be either formal or informal.

Formal admissions

Formal admissions may be made by the statements of case or otherwise in writing including admissions made in compliance with a notice to admit or on a case management conference or other directions hearing.

Informal admissions

Informal admissions are simply items of evidence and may be disproved or explained away at trial by evidence to the contrary. Although they are hearsay, in that they are assertions made other than by a person while giving oral evidence at trial and are adduced as evidence of the facts asserted, they are admissible in evidence by virtue of Civil Evidence Act 1995, s 1.

Where the informal admission is made by a party personally, the only conditions of admissibility are:

  • That the statement must be at least partly adverse;
  • That the statement was made in the same legal capacity as that in which the party is now suing or being sued; and
  • That the statement is received in its entirety.

Notice to admit facts

A party may seek further to limit and define the issues at trial after the directions stage by serving a notice to admit. Notices to admit are a judicially favoured procedure.

Deemed admissions of the authenticity of disclosed documents

A party served with a list of documents may find that they are deemed to have admitted the authenticity of documents disclosed by the other side. If a party believes that documents disclosed by the other side are fabricated or have been tampered with, they must serve a notice to prove. There is a prescribed form for the notice, Form N268.

Proof of documents

Best evidence rule

There is a very old common law rule that the contents of a document must be proved by primary evidence. The rule is often said to be an aspect of the best evidence rule. The best primary evidence of a document is the original, although it has been held in Slaterie v Pooley (1840) 6 M & W 664 that an informal admission is primary evidence of the contents of a document against the party making the admission.

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For more information on:

  • Secondary evidence of a document
  • Other side having the original