15 May, 2017
Newton v Trafford BC
The Claimant alleged his bicycle wheel came into contact with a depression in the road next to a speed bump causing him to fall from his bike and to sustain injury.
The Claimant argued that the defect was dangerous, and contended that the Defendant was in breach of its repairing obligations under s41 Highway Act 1980. The Defendant disagreed and relied upon the Defence under s58 Highways Act 1980.
At trial, the Court was satisfied that the accident had occurred as alleged by the Claimant. However, the key issue was whether the defect was dangerous at the time of the incident. The Judge drew the conclusion that the depression was not dangerous. The Claimant failed to provide any evidence as to the depth of the defect and the Defendant's evidence is that at worst the defect was 35mm and at its shallowest 24mm. The defect fell outside the mandatory obligations in place and the depression was not sufficient to require repair under the policy.
The claim was dismissed.
Whilst the Judge was convinced by the Claimant's evidence, he remained firmly of the view that the depression was not dangerous. The Judge took a practical stance referring to LJ Steyn in Mills v Barnsley (1992) and noting that if we impose unreasonably high standards otherwise scarce resources would be diverted from situations where maintenance and repair of the highways is urgently needed.