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If a defect on the highway causes you to suffer an injury or damage to your property, the Highways Act makes it clear that there is no automatic right to compensation and provides councils with a defence to claims which we are obliged to use.
Please note that if you identify a defect on the highway, you should notify the County Council of this as soon as possible. Completing a claim form is not considered notification of a defect. If you consider the defect to be an emergency situation, please call our Customer Service Centre on 0845 8 72 73 74. You can also notify us of a defect using the report it form on the right.
The Highways Act 1980 requires the County Council to maintain all highways for which it has a responsibility. To identify the level of maintenance required a programme of inspection is carried out. Our inspection process is robust and exceeds national standards. The frequency of inspection is dependent on the classification of the road or footway. For some rural routes these can occur on a six monthly or even annual basis.
Is the County Council responsible?
It is important to understand the circumstances in which the Council can be held responsible. As the Highway Authority, the Council has a duty to 'maintain' the highway. The law sets out what is meant by maintenance, and some things are excluded, for example it does not include keeping a road free of mud.
If you think that the Council has failed to maintain the highway, then you will have to prove this. You will have to show that:
Even if you can prove these things, the law gives a defence to the Highway Authority, and it will not have to compensate you if it can demonstrate that the Council took all reasonable steps to ensure that the highway was safe. This means that all inspections and repairs had been carried out as planned or reported. Where the Council has fulfilled its duty to inspect and repair yet is unaware of a defect related to your incident, usually where it has appeared since the last inspection and we have not been notified by the public or Police the Council is not legally liable.
There are some cases where the Council may not be responsible for the location or type of works being undertaken, for example, utility operations like gas, electric, water etc, trunk roads and private properties. In these circumstances we will advise you as soon as reasonably practicable so that you may pursue your claim directly.
Highways claims - further information