21 September, 2011
Forbes Insurance department successfully represented the Defendant in a trial where the claimant alleged that she had slipped on grass clippings left on the pavement.
Briefly, Rochdale MBC had previously mown the grass verge adjacent to the pavement next to a bus stop. Upon crossing the road to reach the bus stop, the claimant alleged that when stepping on to the pavement she slipped on grass cuttings that had been left, causing a fracture to her elbow.
The Defendant employed a boxing off system when cutting grass. The Judge found that this was an entirely reasonable and acceptable method. Furthermore, it was noted that it was a method used by other Local Authorities because it prevents any spillage onto the pavements.
The Judge found that the presence of the grass clippings on the pavement was not dangerous and did not create a foreseeable risk of injury. The Defendant was exercising a statutory power to cut the grass and had taken reasonable care and skill in doing so. It was found that the grass clippings did not give rise to a dangerous state of affairs nor did it cause an obstruction or danger.
In addition, it was noted that the Claimant had failed to provide a clear, concise or compelling account of the circumstances of the incident. The claim was therefore dismissed.
There is no statutory duty placed upon highway authorities to cut grass verges positioned on the highway, this being undertaken as a statutory power rather than a duty. Pursuant to section 41 of the Highways Act the presence of grass on the highway does not render the fabric of the highway "out of repair". As such, there is no relationship giving rise to a common law duty of care.
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