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Trial win offers solace to highway authorities facing winter maintenance claims

25 July 2014

Mr Yew sought damages against Gloucestershire County Council after slipping on ice on an untreated footway in Tetbury. He alleged that the council was in breach of Section 41(1A) of the Highways Act 1980.

We advised the county council that this was a case to fight to trial.

After accepting that the claimant had slipped as alleged, the judge concluded that:

  • the council has a carefully prepared and reasonable adverse weather policy
  • it was reasonable to prioritise the roadways over a footpath
  • in days of limited resources, it is inevitable that one cannot do everything and in this instance reasonably practicable steps had been taken.

The council therefore had a Section 58 defence and the claimant’s case failed.

This is the first reported trial win for a highway authority facing a footway Section 41(1A) claim.  It demonstrates the kind of evidence that highway authorities need to produce to succeed at court and provides helpful guidance for how courts should approach these cases.

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