Court rebuffs Property Damage Claim

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22 January, 2019

In January 2018 at approximately 9.30pm, the Claimant was driving along the road in heavy rain when the front drivers' side of his vehicle collided with a pothole. The Claimant continued home and upon examination of his vehicle realised that the front tyre of his vehicle had sustained damage. He brought a claim for the costs of the repairs against the local authority.

The local authority accepted that on the date of the alleged accident, the pothole was in existence and that it was an actionable defect. Upon receiving a complaint from a member of the public on the same evening, the pothole was repaired within hours. The local authority sought to rely on a section 58 defence.

The Judge accepted that the pothole had caused damage to the Claimant's vehicle; however, he deemed it unreasonable for the law to expect local authorities to be aware of every single minor problem with the road. The local authority had a policy in place for carrying out inspections and repairs. Upon receiving a complaint from a member of the public and becoming aware of the existence of a pothole, the local authority had carried out a prompt repair.

Despite having sympathy with the Claimant and noting there was no fault on his part, the Judge dismissed the claim.

Forbes comment

We welcome this pragmatic Judgment; the Judge recognised that it was outside the scope of the local authority's obligations to be aware of every pothole. The local authority could do no more than have a reasonable policy in place, to carry out regular inspections and to respond promptly to complaints from members of the public which the authority is doing.

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