Nicholas Hancox

Nicholas qualified in 1977. He specialises in Education Law, Local Government Law and Highways Law and has been authoring and editing for LexisNexis since 2000.
Contributed to


Accidents in schools—liability in tort
Practice Note

This Practice Note mentions that children are often injured at school without any fault on the part of any person, and goes on to discuss case law illustrating the factors that may distinguish a successful claim against a school or its owners from an unsuccessful claim. These factors are a duty of care, vicarious liability, contributory negligence, foreseeable consequences, causation and proximity, the age, disposition and mental capacity of the child, the level of supervision expected in a school, and the extent to which the child was at the material time under the care or control of the school.

Bridges and tunnels
Practice Note

This Practice Note identifies the main highways law issues concerning bridges and tunnels as the rights of the public to pass and re-pass across bridges or through tunnels, and maintenance liability for them. It describes the four types of highway bridge and discusses who is responsible for the maintenance of the bridge in each case, referring in particular to the Highways Act 1980 and the Transport Act 1968. It summarises relevant legislation specific to toll bridges and tolled tunnels, new bridges across navigable water, bridges across boundaries, and footbridges.

Children’s rights in schools
Practice Note

This Practice Note explains that the main rights of a child in school are the right to an education and the right to receive the level of care and protection which a reasonable parent would give, and that these rights are recognised in statute and common law respectively. It discusses relevant provisions in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 and the Human Rights Act 1998, as well as a number of related issues including the right to change a child’s name, free school meals and the provision of uniform and other clothing, and summarises the case law on taking photographs of children at school.

Countryside—the right to roam
Practice Note

This Practice Note summarises the public’s statutory right to roam under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, including the basic definition of access land, the 13 general exceptions where the right to roam does not apply, the restrictions on the use of access land, and the duty of the Natural England and Natural Resources Wales to review the maps at roughly ten-yearly intervals. It notes that the access authorities, which are the National Park Authorities, the highway authorities and the Broads Authority, may construct means of access to access land, and make byelaws regulating the use of access land.

Creation of highways
Practice Note

This Practice Note explains the common law and statutory ways in which a highway may be created without express agreement between the landowner and the public.

Definitive map and modification orders
Practice Note

This Practice Note summarises the statutory basis, nature and function of the definitive map and statement that a highway authority must keep of the public rights of way in its area, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It explains the highway authority’s duty to keep the map and statement under constant review and to update and modify them where necessary, and the events and orders that will require modification of the map and statement. It sets out the procedures for making a modification order, both for when it is initiated by the authority, and for when it is initiated by an application to the authority from another party.

Equality Act 2010—discrimination in schools
Practice Note

This Practice Note discusses the sections of the Equality Act 2010 which activate prohibitions on discrimination in schools, the different types of discrimination including sex, race, religion or belief, age, marriage or civil partnership and disability, and the exceptions that may apply. It notes that the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017, SI 2017/353 require public authorities with education functions to publish information annually to demonstrate their compliance with the public sector equality duty under EqA 2010, s 149.

Highway widths and boundaries
Practice Note

This Practice Note explains that the width of a highway is primarily a question of fact, at common law requiring evidence amounting to proof of the minimum width required to take the traffic entitled to use it. It notes that in the absence of proof, the Highways Act 1980 provides minimum and maximum widths. It also describes the different types of boundaries, explaining that there is often physical evidence of the lateral boundaries of a highway but that it is a question of fact in each case, and notes that highway authorities may widen a highway or erect new bridges or footbridges under the Highways Act 1980.

Land and property at an academy or free school
Practice Note

This Practice Note summarises Schedule 1 to the Academies Act 2010, which provides powers for the Secretary of State to provide land for academies and to control their use and disposal. It highlights some of the more important clauses from the Department for Education’s free school model funding agreement on land and property issues.

Land transfers for new academy schools
Practice Note

This Practice Note outlines the basic funding arrangements of an academy school, highlighting who is responsible for the day-to-day running of the academy and the maintenance of the grounds and buildings. The need for a land transfer arises as an academy will often utilise premises that have been vacated by a previous state-funded school. It explains the process and the issues that arise during the transfer of land from a community school, a voluntary aided school, a voluntary combined school and a foundation school to an academy. This Practice Note applies only in England; there are no academies in Wales.

Nuisance on highways
Practice Note

This Practice Note explains the law of nuisance in relation to highways, noting that the common law on this issue is expressly preserved by section 333 of the Highways Act 1980. It discusses the circumstances in which builders’ works, scaffolding and skips, racing and unsuitable traffic, stationary traffic, and bridges and beams across the highway may be a nuisance, referring to common law and statute. It also provides an overview of potential nuisances from adjoining property, including domestic or farm animals, pigeons, smoke and fumes, and trees.

Ofsted, failing schools and intervention
Practice Note

This Practice Note sets out the legislative sources of Ofsted’s administrative arrangements and areas of endeavour, the frequency and nature of school inspections, the different categories of unsatisfactory schools in England, and the steps that a local authority may have to follow under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 if one of its schools is found to be unsatisfactory.

Required signs and marking the road surface
Practice Note

This Practice Note explains the definition of a traffic sign under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, the powers and duties of a local traffic authority regarding putting traffic signs up on a highway, and the prohibition on putting up traffic signs for most other organisations and people. It provides an overview of central government controls aimed at achieving uniformity, referring extensively to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016, SI 2016/362.

School attendance
Practice Note

This Practice Note summarises what constitutes compulsory school age. It explains that under the Education Act 1996, a child of compulsory school age must either be registered at a school or be suitably educated otherwise than at school; that if the education otherwise is inadequate, then a school attendance order may be sought; and that it is a criminal offence for a parent to fail to comply with a school attendance order. It notes that police officers and community support officers are authorised to carry out truancy sweeps.

School land and premises
Practice Note

This Practice Note explains that the ownership of school land and premises depends mainly on the type of school in question, and discusses ownership in relation to community schools, voluntary schools, foundation schools, academies and free schools. It discusses renewed interest in the School Sites Act 1841, under which landowners were encouraged to donate sites for local schools on the basis that, if a school ever closed, the land would revert back to the donor. It also discusses provision for schools to be used for community purposes such as elections.

School transport and out-of-school trips
Practice Note

This Practice Note explains that every English local authority must develop for approval a school travel scheme under the Education Act 1996, s 508E for children of compulsory school age, and that unless and until an approved school travel scheme has been implemented, the local authority must provide other travel arrangements for every eligible child. Each school travel scheme must include a policy on charging the parents (or their children) for home-to-school travel, although protected children must travel free of charge. It also discusses case law relating to school transport, and legislation on out-of-school trips.

Standards of highway maintenance
Practice Note

This Practice Note explains that the quality of highway maintenance required depends on the expected ordinary traffic on the highway in question. It also explains that individuals who sustain injury from danger on a highway can sue the highway authority for negligence, and that if the highway authority can prove it took reasonable care it has a statutory defence under the Highways Act 1980. It also notes that at common law, the duty is to keep the highway in reasonable condition, not improve it. The authority must conduct routine inspections of the highway surface and have a system for incoming reports of damage, but the duty to keep the highway in repair does not extend to the damage done by extraordinary traffic.

Other work

Maintenance liability for highways

This Practice Note distinguishes between highways that are privately maintainable and highways that are maintainable at the public expense. It explains that the constructor retains liability for a new adopted highway until it has been open for around 12 months. Other highways may be privately maintainable by reason of tenure, enclosure, or prescription. It discusses the use of a s 38 agreement which allows for the adoption of a highway, passing the maintenance liability to the highways authority. The Note also sets out the public bodies that have a duty under the Highways Act 1980 to maintain highways maintainable at public expense, including the Secretary of State, county councils, metropolitan or unitary councils, and London boroughs.

Practice areas


  • BSc University of Southampton 1972, LLM University of East Anglia 2005


  • Past Chairman of the Education Law Association


  • Contributing Author
  • Other Publications

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