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Supermarket slip up


I was coming out of a supermarket petrol station when I hit a patch of ice which had gathered by a mini-roundabout. The forecourt itself had been gritted but not the route back onto the main road. I didn’t do a great deal of damage to the bike but it was new so I’m not best pleased that there’s a massive scuff where I dropped it. Can I make the council pay for it?

James R, by e-mail


Snow and ice claims can be difficult and are very different depending on who was responsible for the mini-roundabout. The local authority is only responsible for adopted roads. It sounds like the road you are referring to may not be adopted and therefore could be the responsibility of the supermarket, particularly if the road goes back through their car park.

If the local authority is responsible for the road then they have two main duties in respect of snow and ice, one is to clear snow from the highway, but only if it is causing an obstruction and the second, set out in section 41(1A) of the Highways Act, is to ensure that users of the highway are not endangered by snow or ice “so far as is reasonably practicable.” The “reasonably practicable” part is key. As with their responsibly with potholes and other obstructions, they are not required to keep all roads clear at all times, and as long as they have a reasonable system of inspection and clearance that will be a full defence to a claim such as yours.

If the road belongs to the supermarket, a claim may have better prospects. There are required to take reasonable steps to ensure that anyone using the petrol station is able to do so safely and the fact that they have gritted the forecourt would seem to suggest they were aware of that and have taken steps to prevent it being to slippery. If that have subsequently failed to grit the road in and out, for which they are responsible, then that would seem to be negligent and you may well succeed against them.


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