Highways affected by weather
Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors Ltd and Alistair Frew of Lodders LLP
Highways affected by weather

The following Local Government guidance note Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors Ltd and Alistair Frew of Lodders LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Highways affected by weather
  • Flooding
  • Ice and snow

The duty of every highway authority to maintain a highway maintainable at the public expense is more onerous during adverse weather conditions. Ice, snow and flooding all make the highways more dangerous and they all make the job of the maintenance authority much more difficult.

The following cases show how the highway authority has to balance its duty to the public with its duty to make sensible use of its limited resources:

Flooding

Burnside v Emerson

In Burnside v Emerson a car being driven by Mr Emerson ran into a pool of water and swung into the path of a car being driven by Mr Burnside. The highway authority for the road on which the accident occurred was the second defendant. Lord Denning MR said:

'The plaintiff must show that the road was in such a condition as to be dangerous for traffic. In seeing whether it was dangerous, foreseeability is an essential element. The state of affairs must be such that injury may reasonably be anticipated to persons using the highway.

The plaintiff must prove that the dangerous condition was due to a failure to maintain, which includes a failure to repair, the highway. In this regard, a distinction is to drawn between a permanent danger due to want of repair and a transient danger due to the elements. When there