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Salimian v L B Brent (2009)
Date: 2009-10-15


The Claim was dismissed at trial.

The Claimant suffered significant damage to his motor vehicle when the front tyres of his vehicle went into potholes as he was driving along a residential road. The Claimant sought damages alleging that the defendant had failed to maintain the highway in breach of the Highways Act 1980. The Claimant also alleged that the road was not adequately lit.

The defendant raised the section 58 statutory defence. The defendant’s street ward officer noted the presence of the potholes on the carriageway four days before the accident and referred the matter to the area engineer. The area engineer inspected the site the following day and marked out the potholes for repair with white paint. He referred the matter to contractors for repair within five days. The repairs were completed within the five day period however the accident occurred during this time.

The carriageway was subject to routine inspections every 12 months and the defendant was able to produce the records. The pre-accident inspection was conducted four months before the accident. The defendant also produced the street lighting records which confirmed that none of the lamp columns were out of light on the day of the accident.

Contributory negligence was also alleged in that the Claimant was driving at speed and failed to keep a proper look out.

The judge held that the system of inspection and maintenance was adequate. The lighting was also sufficient for the type of road. It was held that the white paint on the road should have alerted the Claimant to the presence of the potholes. It was accepted that warning signs could not have been placed near the potholes as this would effectively close the road which was not practical under the circumstances. The claim was dismissed.

This case illustrates how a highway authority can successfully defend a defective highway claim if it is thoroughly investigated and supported with comprehensive records. Despite the fact that inspections only took place every 12 months it was accepted that the system was adequate as inspectors notified the area engineers if they find a defect outside of their area.

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