The parties had entered into contracts for the construction of dwellings. The contractors sought payment. The council alleged shortcomings in the works. The principal parties had settled the dispute, but a sub-contractor now sought disclosure of the agreement so that it could pursue its own action. The council said that the document was covered by the without prejudice rule.
Held: When looking at without prejudice negotiations to decide on admissibility, it would be wrong to isolate admissions before admitting the rest. That would not allow the parties to speak freely about all issues in the litigation both factual and legal when seeking compromise and, for the purpose of establishing a basis of compromise, admitting certain facts. The rule applies ‘to exclude all negotiations genuinely aimed at settlement whether oral or in writing from being given in evidence.’
Lord Bridge of Harwich, Lord Brandon of Oakbrook, Lord Griffiths, Lord Oliver of Aylmerton, Lord Goff of Chieveley
 AC 1280,  3 WLR 939,  3 All ER 737,  UKHL 7
England and Wales
Cited – Cutts v Head and Another CA 7-Dec-1983
There had been a trial of 35 days regarding rights of way over land, which had proved fruitless, and where some orders had been made without jurisdiction. The result had been inconclusive. The costs order was now appealed, the plaintiff complaining . .
Cited – Waldridge v Kennison 1794
A without prejudice admission that a document was in the handwriting of one of the parties was received in evidence because it was independent of the merits of the case. . .
Cited – Tomlin v Standard Telephones and Cables Ltd CA 1969
Without prejudice material can be admitted if the issue is whether or not the negotiations resulted in an agreed settlement. Without considering the communications in question it would be impossible to decide whether there was a concluded settlement . .
Cited – In Re Daintrey, Ex Parte Holt QBD 8-May-1893
The court was asked whether a letter could be admitted in evidence and relied upon as an act of bankruptcy. The letter was sent by the debtor to the creditor at a time when there was no dispute, headed ‘without prejudice’. It contained an offer of . .
Cited – Walker v Wilsher CA 1889
Letters or conversations which were written or declared to be ‘without prejudice’ may not be taken into consideration in determining whether there is good cause for depriving a successful litigant of his costs.
Lord Esher MR said: ‘The letters . .
Cited – Kitcat v Sharp 1882
The plaintiff clergyman had begun his action for rescission of a contract with the defendant for misrepresentattion. The defendant sent him a ‘private and confidential’ letter threatening publication of the pleadings with comments depreciating the . .
Cited – Teign Valley Mining Co. Ltd, v Woodcock 22-Jul-1899
A company claimed for money owed upon calls upon its shares. The defendant, Woodcock, admitted liability to the company but claimed against a Captain Rising that he held the shares as his nominee. The judge admitted in evidence terms of the . .
Cited – Rabin v Mendoza and Co CA 1954
The plaintiffs sued the defendants for negligence in surveying a property. Before the action commenced a meeting had taken place between the plaintiffs’ solicitor and a partner in the defendants’ firm of surveyors to see if the matter could be . .
Cited – Stretton v Stubbs Ltd CA 28-Feb-1905
(1905) The plaintiff, an artist had a judgment against him by a picture frame maker. It had been entered by consent under an agreement with the plaintiff’s solicitor that no publicity should be given to the result of the action. Nevertheless, the . .
Cited – O’Rourke v Darbishire HL 1920
Sir Joseph Whitworth had died in 1887. In 1884 he had made a will appointing three executors and leaving his residuary estate to charity. By a codicil made in 1885 he altered his will to leave his ultimate residue to his executors for their own . .
Cited – Unilever plc v Procter and Gamble Company CA 4-Nov-1999
The defendant’s negotiators had asserted in an expressly ‘without prejudice’ meeting, that the plaintiff was infringing its patent and they threatened to bring an action for infringement. The plaintiff sought to bring a threat action under section . .
Cited – Berry Trade Ltd and Another v Moussavi and others CA 22-May-2003
A defendant appealed against an order admitting as evidence, records of ‘without prejudice’ conversations.
Held: Written and oral communications, which are made for the purpose of a genuine attempt to compromise a dispute between the parties, . .
Cited – Savings and Investment Bank Ltd (In Liquidation) v Fincken CA 14-Nov-2003
Parties to litigation had made without prejudice disclosures. One party sought to give evidence contradicting the dsclosure, and the other now applied for leave to amend based upon the without prejudice statements to be admitted to demonstrate the . .
Cited – Hall and Another v Pertemps Group Ltd and Another ChD 21-Nov-2005
It was alleged that in the course of mediation one party had made a threat against the other. The current application related to a report of the mediation made to a third party, and the court was asked to take account of that threat in assessing . .
Cited – Buckinghamshire County Council v Moran CA 13-Feb-1989
The parties’ respective properties were separated by a fence or hedge and the true owner had no access to the disputed land. In 1967 the Defendants’ predecessors in title began to maintain the land by mowing the grass and trimming the hedges and . .
Cited – Ofulue and Another v Bossert CA 29-Jan-2008
The claimants appealed an order finding that the defendant had acquired their land by adverse possession. They said that the defendant had asserted in defence to possession proceedings that they were tenants, and that this contradicted an intent to . .
Cited – Brown v Rice and Another ChD 14-Mar-2007
The parties, the bankrupt and her trustee, had engaged in a mediation which failed at first, but applicant said an agreement was concluded on the day following. The defendants denied this, and the court as asked to determine whether a settlement had . .
Cited – Ofulue and Another v Bossert HL 11-Mar-2009
The parties disputed ownership of land, one claiming adverse possession. In the course of negotations, the possessor made a without prejudice offer to purchase the paper owner’s title. The paper owner claimed that this was an acknowledgement under . .
Cited – Brunel University and Another v Webster and Vaseghi CA 22-May-2007
The parties had been involved in long standing disputes about the procedures in the respondents complaints of race discrimination. The claims had been dismissed, but the Vice-Chancellor then wrote publicly of unfounded unwarranted and excessive . .
Cited – Best Buy Co Inc and Another v Worldwide Sales Corp. Espana Sl ChD 8-Jul-2010
The claimant accused the defendant of making threats in connection with trade mark applications. The claimants operated under US trade marks associated with ‘Best Buy’ and sought similar marks in Europe. The defendant company traded under a similar . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Evidence, Litigation Practice, Construction
Updated: 10 December 2021; Ref: scu.182472