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Published 18 January 2022


Da Silva v Transport for London (Central London County Court 7 April 2021) (Unreported)

Subject/issues: Liability of highway authority for a worn and polished manhole cover

The court found that the surface of a manhole cover on a busy London road which had become worn and polished had represented a real danger to riders of motor scooters and that the highway authority had breached its duty under the Highways Act 1980 Pt IV s.41(1) to maintain the highway by allowing such situation to be unremedied.

DACB Comment:

Since the rise of e-scooters, highways authorities have been grappling with whether this additional type of road user will change the nature, type or frequency of highway inspections. Whilst the advice has always been that of course they will need to be taken into account and factored into the risk-based approach, this is a worrying decision for local authorities as it appears to be particularly onerous on the standard expected of an inspector, not least because manhole covers will usually be the property and responsibility of the utilities companies. Time will tell as to whether this decision is appealed.

Lara Maslowska, Solicitor