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Roe v Sheffield City Council [2003] EWCA Civ 1

Personal Injury - Breach of statutory duty - Highways - Tramways - Claimant injured in car accident caused by tram rails - Judge wrong to hold that Tramways Act 1870, s 25 imposed absolute duty to maintain tram rails level with road surface - Obligation to maintain tramway under Tramways Act 1870, s 28 involved same duty as that imposed on highway authority by Highways Act 1980 s 41 - Standard of maintenance to be measured by considerations of safety - Tramways operator and council as highway authority could be concurrently liable for accident caused by tram rails in road surface

31 January 2003

The claimant was seriously injured in a car crash which he claimed was caused by tram rails in the road surface. The judge concluded that the fact that the tram rails were proud of the road surface caused the claimant to lose control of his car. The judge held that there was a breach of s 25 of the Tramways Act 1870 which required tramways to be laid and maintained in such manner that the uppermost surface of the rail was on a level with the surface of the road. The responsibility for that breach lay with the tramway operating company and not the council as highway authority. The operating company appealed arguing that s 25 did not create a private law right of action. The claimant cross-appealed against the judgment in favour of the council. ISSUE (1) Whether ss 25 and 28 of the Tramways Act 1870 conferred a private law right of action. (2) Whether there was a breach of s 25. (3) Whether there was a breach of s 28. (4) Whether the council owed any duty to the...

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