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Local authorities are under a legal duty to repair potholes in the road, but a certain number will always be there as part and parcel of a less than perfect world. So the Court of Appeal observed as it dismissed a compensation claim by a cyclist who was seriously injured in an accident on a lonely mountain road.
The cyclist hit a pothole as he swerved to avoid a pile of manure in the road. He was thrown to the ground, suffering head and orthopaedic injuries and damaged teeth. He claimed that the hole amounted to a trap for road users and sued the local highway authority for up to £50,000 in damages. However, in rejecting his claim, a judge found that the hole did not constitute a foreseeable hazard.
Dismissing the cyclist's appeal against that decision, the Court noted that the presence of potholes on sparsely used and remote roads is simply a fact of life. The risk posed by the hole was of a low order and the cost of removing such minor defects across the country would be enormous. In those circumstances, the judge's decision represented a sensible balance between public and private interests.