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The new highways code of practice - and contracted out services

Many highway authorities have contracted out aspects of their highways functions. Where that contract extends beyond 28 October 2018 that contract will need to be revised to ensure compliance with the new code. The case of Amey v Cumbria 2016 EWHC 2856 is a salutary lesson in how relations between a contractor and highway authority can go horribly wrong. Some indication of the scale of the problem can be gleaned from the fact that: the judgment runs to 299 pages; the trial lasted 16 weeks and included leading counsel and 2 junior counsel for each party; noises were made about Cumbria’s chief executive being subjected to contempt proceedings; and that the outcome was that Cumbria were on the wrong end of a judgment for in excess of £5 million.

Highway authorities need to start looking now at how they will adopt the new code – and that includes, where contractors will be involved, how existing contractual arrangements need to be varied to incorporate the change of approach under the new code. Because, as Cumbria’s experience shows, you don’t want to be on the wrong end of a dispute with your highways contractor.

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