Pothole test case to proceed

Posted: 13th June 2014

PotholeA pothole on a remote mountain lane is the focus of attention in the Court of Appeal after a cyclist rode into it whilst avoiding a pile of manure and was seriously injured.

Melvyn Griffiths had just crested a hill on Roman Road, on his way to the village of Croesor, in Gwynedd, when disaster struck. The 56-year-old swerved to avoid gravel and manure in the road and felt a hard bump as his front wheel went into a pothole. He lost control, went over the handlebars and suffered severe injuries to his head, face, right hand, knees and back.

Mr Griffiths sued Gwynedd County Council for £50,000 over the May 2009 accident and a judge absolved him of an allegation that he had ridden too fast down the hill. However, his claim was dismissed on the basis that the pothole was not dangerous and that a ruling in his favour would place 'too demanding' a burden on local authorities to repair defects, particularly on isolated rural roads.

In granting Mr Griffiths permission to appeal against that ruling, the Court found that he had an arguable case that the council had breached its duty to maintain and repair the road under Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980. His lawyers argued that the 'category 1' pothole was 80-100 millimetres deep and that the council had been legally obliged to fill it in within 24 hours.