West Sussex County Council v Russell: CA 12 Feb 2010

The council appealed against a finding that it had failed in its duty to keep the highway safe leading to an accident in which the claimant was severely injured. The road was narrow, and a significant drop had developed by the edge of the road. The claimant drove into the drop, then crashed after swerving to restore herself to the road.
Held: The authority’s appeal failed. The verge was part of the roadway, but was clearly marked off. ‘notwithstanding the terminology of the subsection and the occasional reference in the authorities to the ‘absolute’ nature of liability thereunder, the liability was less than to guarantee the safety of the highway for all users.’ This was a rural road, and the drop would not have been dangerous for drivers using it as intended. It was a hazard only to those speeding. Section 58(2)(a) might have provided an answer for the authority, but it had accepted the fault by remedying the road. The difference in height of six inches between the road surface and a grass verge was a potential hazard to users of the road and presented a danger, such that the defendant was in breach of its duty under Section 41 of the 1980 Act.
Arden LJ, Wilson LJ, Henderson J
[2010] EWCA Civ 71, [2010] RTR 19
Highways Act 1980 41(1) 58(2)
England and Wales
CitedBurnside v Emerson CA 1968
A car crashed as a result of running into a pool of storm-water lying across the road. The pool had been caused by the authority’s failure properly to maintain the drainage system, which had become blocked.
Held: The claim succeeded. Diplock . .
CitedJones v Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council CA 15-Jul-2008
The claimant, a fireman, sought damages for injuries suffered when he was injured answering a call out. He fell into a depressed area by the road side as he was pulling away a burning wooden pallet.
Held: The appeal was dismissed. The court . .
CitedRider v Rider CA 1973
Sachs LJ stated that ‘it is in my judgment clear that the corporation’s statutory duty under section 44 of the Act of 1959 is reasonably to maintain and repair the highway so that it is free of danger to all users who use that highway in the way . .
CitedKind v Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Council Admn 31-Jul-2001
The appellant complained that the local council had failed to maintain a highway. The road was a single track rural highway. The Crown Court allowed for the present-day character of the highway, and the appellant objected. The complainant sought to . .

Cited by:
CitedKing Lifting Ltd v Oxfordshire County Council QBD 20-Jul-2016
A heavy crane had toppled from a road. The crane owners said that the highway authority were responsible for the poor condition of the road.
Held: The action failed. The evidence did not support the assertion that the accident arose from a . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 22 February 2021; Ref: scu.396739