03 March, 2015
Tierney v Rochdale MBC, January 2015 - Manchester County Court, Recorder Little
Forbes has successfully defended a claim on behalf of Rochdale MBC. The Claimant alleged that she had sustained a personal injury after falling on a broken flagstone in a residential area whilst out looking for a cat in March 2011.
Despite the Defendant raising concerns over the differing terminology used by the Claimant when describing her accident, it was found on the balance of probabilities that the Claimant probably did fall on the alleged defect.
Rochdale MBC relied on the statutory defence under the Highways Act 1980. The footway had been subject to annual inspections. The Judge dismissed the allegation that an actionable defect was present at the time of the pre accident highway inspection. The Court was satisfied by the Highways Inspector's evidence that a defect like the one the subject of the claim was un-missable and that had it been present he would have noted it and ordered it for repair.
The Judge concluded that the Defendant had discharged its burden to ensure the highway was not dangerous. The Claimant was not able to put forward any evidence to support the allegation that an actionable defect had been missed during the previous highway inspection. The material inspection was done and was completed properly. The claim was therefore dismissed and the Defendant awarded its costs.
The burden is on the Claimant to prove that the defect was actionable at the time of the previous highway inspection in March 2011. In this instance, the Defendant was able to prove that the inspection system was appropriate and that if the Highway Inspector had found an actionable defect he would have acted on it. There was simply no evidence in June 2010 that the highway was in a defective state. Therefor the claim had to fail.