Cyclists and spilt concrete

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The claimant in this case suffered a severe head injury when falling from his bicycle after the wheel had struck a small spillage of concrete which had hardened and stuck to the surface of the road. The court was asked to decide whether the concrete was part of the fabric of the road.

The Local Authority under the Highways Act only have an obligation to maintain ' the fabric' of the Highway and the removal of obstructions or surface lying material has not been held previously to be within its scope. The Local Authority argued that the concrete was a ' contaminant' on the surface  of the road not dissimilar to a piece of chewing gum .   Mr Thomas' lawyers argued that once the concrete hardened and bonded to the road it became part of the fabric.

The Judge accepted the Claimants argument and distinguished this claim from previous cases in which Local Authorities were found not to be required to remove substances such as mud and grit from the road.  The Judge found that when the concrete bonded to the Highway it had become part of it.

This of course has implications for Local Authorities duties as spillages of concrete are not uncommon in and around areas where roads are being mended. Highways Inspections will now have to take these into account and have an impact on the manner in which their inspection polices are drafted.

Ruth Johnson
Solicitor - Personal Injury team

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