Larner v Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council: CA 20 Dec 2000

The duty on a local authority to promote road safety did not remove from them the discretion as to how that duty was to be implemented. A claim that the authority had failed to place certain signage, and that an accident had occurred which might not otherwise have done. The duty was a target duty, rather than an absolute one. The absence of advance warnings of a Give Way duty at a junction was within that discretion. It might be that a common law duty could arise to promote road safety, but only in truly exceptional circumstances. ‘so far as section 39 of the 1988 Act is concerned, we would accept that there can be circumstances of an exceptional nature where a common law liability can arise. For that to happen, it would have to be shown that the default of the authority falls outside the ambit of discretion given to the authority by the section. This would happen if an authority acted wholly unreasonably.’


Woolf LJ


Times 06-Feb-2001, Gazette 22-Feb-2001, (2001) RTR 469, [2000] EWCA Civ 359




Road Traffic Act 1988 39


England and Wales


CitedStovin v Wise, Norfolk County Council (Third Party) HL 24-Jul-1996
Statutory Duty Does Not Create Common Law Duty
The mere existence of statutory power to remedy a defect cannot of itself create a duty of care to do so. A highway authority need not have a duty of care to highway users because of its duty to maintain the highway. The two stage test ‘involves . .

Cited by:

CitedGorringe v Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council CA 2-May-2002
The claimant sought damages, alleging that an accident occurred as a result of the defendant highway authority’s negligence in failing to mark the road properly. A ‘Slow’ sign had become faded and had not been maintained.
Held: The judge had . .
CitedGreat North Eastern Railway Limited v Hart and Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and Network Rail Infrastructure Limited QBD 30-Oct-2003
A driver had crashed through a barrier before a bridge, and descended into the path of a train. Ten people died. He now sought a contribution order against the Secretary of State for the condition of the barrier which was said to be faulty.
CitedGorringe v Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council HL 1-Apr-2004
Statutory Duty Not Extended by Common Law
The claimant sought damages after a road accident. The driver came over the crest of a hill and hit a bus. The road was not marked with any warning as to the need to slow down.
Held: The claim failed. The duty could not be extended to include . .
CitedJane Marianne Sandhar, John Stuart Murray v Department of Transport, Environment and the Regions CA 5-Nov-2004
The claimant’s husband died when his car skidded on hoar frost. She claimed the respondent was liable under the Act and at common law for failing to keep it safe.
Held: The respondent had not assumed a general responsibility to all road users . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Personal Injury, Local Government

Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.82953