Code of practice for well-maintained highways held to be non-mandatory guidance

Some local authorities may have been concerned by the decision of Mrs Justice Slade in AC v Devon County Council [2012] EWHC 796 (QB), which held that the recommended inspection interval of roads in a non-statutory code of practice was a mandatory standard.

While overtaking a slower-moving vehicle on a country road, the vehicle left the road to the near side and the passengers were seriously injured in the ensuing crash into trees alongside the road. The passengers sued the driver and the driver made a third-party claim against the highway authority — Devon County Council — alleging that the defective state of the offside of the road caused him to lose control.

Devon had in place its own manual for road inspection and the treatment of defects and it categorised the road in question as a local distributor road with an inspection frequency of six months. The code suggested an inspection frequency of one month for this category of road…

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