Local authorities no longer liable for 'surface-lying material' causing an accident

A Court of Appeal judgment is expected to curb the number of claims brought against local authorities for slips and trips and road traffic accidents. The case of Judith Valentine v Transport for London (TfL), heard last week, clarifies a previously grey area of law relating to the extent of a highway authority’s duty to repair roads.

Until now, the courts have held that the duty to maintain roads extended to removing surface-lying material, and local authorities have been inundated by personal injury claims. But it has been ruled that statutory duty to repair is confined to the structure and fabric of the road.

Counsel for TfL, Adam Weitzman of 7 Bedford Row, said: “As a result of this judgment, there will be some reduction in the level of claims in this area.”