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Highway repair

Recent case law has improved highway authorities’ position in the event of a claim against them, says James Shrimpton

21 February 2003

Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980 states that a highway authority is under a duty to maintain the highway. This is an absolute duty, mitigated by s 58 of the Act, which provides that it is a defence to prove the authority had taken such care as was reasonably required to ensure the part of the highway to which the action relates was not dangerous for traffic. The House of Lords previously held in Goodes v East Sussex CC [2000] 1 WLR 1356 that maintaining and repairing the fabric of the road itself falls within this duty, whereas removing snow and ice does not. Gorringe case In Gorringe v Calderdale MBC [2002] EWCA Civ 595; (2002) 146 sjlb 124, the claimant suffered serious injuries when she lost control of her car after hitting a bump in the road at speed. There was no evidence that the fabric of the road was at fault, and the bump existed because of the natural contours of the land. The Court of Appeal held that a highway authority had no duty under s 41 of the...

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