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highway victory for a risk based approach

13 December 2017

Delivering a forward thinking judgment at Birmingham County Court on 11 December 2017, DDJ Mitchell dismissed the claim of a jogger who tripped in a pothole, commending the dynamic risk-based approach taken by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s highways inspector.

The claimant was jogging along a rural road when he ran into a puddle in a carriageway pothole between one and one and a half inches deep. The Neighbourhood Coordinator had identified the pothole for non-urgent repair at an earlier inspection as he did not consider it to be dangerous.

The judge agreed that the pothole was not dangerous within the meaning of Section 41 and found that there had been no breach of duty.

From October 2018 local authorities will be required to take a risk-based approach to highways inspections under the new Well-Managed Highway Infrastructure Code of Practice.

This excellent decision demonstrates that courts appear to already have one eye on the future Code and the risk based approach that highway authorities will be following from October 2018 next year.

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The Supreme Court decision in Williams and another v Borough of Hackney [2018] UKSC 37 was an example of the local authority getting Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 right.

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