07 April, 2015
Musa v Bolton Council
District Judge Manasse - 16th March 2015
Forbes has successfully defended a claim on behalf of Bolton Council. The claimant alleged that he tripped in a long standing pothole and sustained an injury to his knee.
The defendant denied that the defect was longstanding and sought to rely on the Section 58 Defence. The defendant maintained that the defect had not been created due to wear and tear but most likely had been formed suddenly as a result of a collapse of the supporting layers beneath the top layer of bitmac creating a void.
The Council had in place a system of inspection and the area had been inspected before and after the claimant's fall and the alleged defect had not been noted for repair. The defect was later picked up on a subsequent inspection. Therefore, the issue before the court was whether the defect was present at the time of the alleged fall?
The claimant was unable to provide contemporaneous photographic evidence; the claimant's photographs had been taken two months after the alleged accident and after the highway inspection which had noted the defect for repair.
Whilst the Judge was satisfied that the claimant did fall, he did not find that the cause of the fall was the alleged defect. He was of the view that if the defect had been in existence at the time of the claimant's accident then it would have been noted by the highways inspector. He accepted the defendant's evidence that the defect was caused by a lack of support and not by deterioration. The claim failed.
The Judge was clearly impressed by the evidence put forward by the defendant's highway team. In cases such as this, the Judge must determine whether or not the inspection procedure has been conducted in the correct manner. This case therefore demonstrates the importance of having a team of well trained inspectors and ensuring that those inspectors have received up to date guidance on the claims procedure before giving evidence at trial.
For further information regarding highways training for inspectors or any other advice relating to highways claims advice please contact Ridwaan Omar by email or on 01254 662831.