0370 270 6000

already registered?

Please sign in with your existing account details.

need to register?

Register to access exclusive content, sign up to receive our updates and personalise your experience on brownejacobson.com.

Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

Patmore v Devon County Council, Exeter County Court, 12 August 2004

24 August 2004
The issues

Highways – Section 41 Highways Act 1980 – Failure to Identify Defect.

The facts

The Claimant on the 5th April 2001 at around midnight was travelling along Gypsy Lane in Exmouth. She was riding a bicycle. She fell from her bicycle and sustained injuries as a consequence. She blamed the presence of a pothole in the carriageway for causing her to lose control. Following the accident she attended the scene with her husband where photographs and vague measurements were taken of the alleged defect. The road was generally considered to be in a poor condition and was resurfaced shortly after the accident.

At trial the Claimant was asked to draw on a photograph the route taken – the route failed to take her near to any defect in the carriageway. During the course of her evidence she changed the route to pass through a defect clearly visible in the photographs but on the opposite side of the road to that stated in her evidence. Her husband (who had been excluded from the courtroom during the Claimant’s evidence) highlighted a completely different location on the photograph. After lunch the Claimant sought permission to change her evidence again but was refused permission to do so by the judge.

The decision

The Claimant had failed to establish the precise point at which her accident had occurred. It is not enough simply to say that the road was in a bad condition, the Claimant had to be able to pinpoint the spot and prove a breach of S. 41 Highways Act 1980. The Court had sympathy for the Claimant’s inability to remember but her claim could not succeed. James v Preseli Pembrokeshire DC followed.

The Court went on to find that, on the evidence, the Defendant County Council had made out their S.58 defence under Highways Act 1980 had they needed it. The Court was mindful of the need to protect Highway Authorities from unreasonable standards as per te dicta of Steyn LJ in Mills v Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.


For further information can you please contact Daniel Turner at danielturner@veitchpenny.co.uk or Brent McDonald at bmcdonald@2templegardens.co.uk.

training and events


Insurer Insight event London office

Developed for insurers, this exclusive series of events will provide you with operational and practical insights from across the legal spectrum.

View event

focus on...

Legal updates

Insurance Product Value and the duty to act in the best interests of customers: risks from intermediary remuneration

On 19 November 2019, the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) published “Finalised guidance” (FG19/5) for “insurance product manufacturers and distributors”.


Legal updates

Financial Services – ‘Duty of Care’ Bill: consumer protection or damp squib?

The Financial Services Duty of Care Bill (the “Bill”) was introduced into the House of Lords in October 2019 and had its second reading on 9 January 2020.


Legal updates

Noise-induced hearing loss claims – documentation and the expert engineer

Guest writer, Finch Consulting Senior Consultant Teli Chinelis applies his expertise in preparing engineering reports in relation to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) claims to explain information that is required from the claimant and information that is required and is advisable to be retained by employers, in order to ensure that claims can be fairly represented.


Legal updates

SRA Standards and Regulations November 2019

On Monday 25 November the 2011 SRA Handbook is replaced by the 2019 SRA Standards and Regulations (often referred to as STARS).This is the 26th version of the Code of Conduct for Solicitors.


The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

mailing list sign up

Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up