Ask advice - Taking the council to small claims court
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Taking the council to small claims court

29th October 2010

I need some advice please.
I hit a gigantic pothole in Feb 2010, followed your advice and submitted the FOI request then filed my complaint. The council highways dept have admitted they were running behind schedule on repairs.The FOI enquiry returned several reports of this pothole just before my incident, and quarterly inspection results showing this area to be a problem area with multiple patches.
Within the council the highways dept offloaded the claim to the insurance section, but they refused to settle the claim. I raised the request to the small claims court and now have a date for a hearing.
The council's defence will be that the poor weather conditions caused many pothole problems, but they had to prioritise their streched resources to deploy grit.
Do you think I have good cause to continue down the route of the court? What, in your opinion, are my chances of compensation?
thanks in advace

Replies (4)

simon.jones     posted : 27/01/11 at 8:58 pm

Success !
I'm happy to report that the Judge decided in my favour. Mainly because the evidence the council put forward didn't support their claim to have repaired the road in the weeks between the first report and my incident - they had no records (due to a supposed computer error) and they could not put anyone up as a witness who had performed the alleged repair.
Their defence was that the weather didn't allow repairs, but I was able to find materials which could repair in the cold and wet, also checked weather reports to demonstrate that the weather improved in the time they "couldn't fix it".
I recommend you to plan your claim carefully and present all facts backed up by evidence. Expert     posted : 05/11/10 at 10:14 am

Use the FOI Act again. Ask them how soon they normally repair potholes, and what delays they incurred due to the 2009/10 winter. I would also ask if the delays were risk assessed and/or approved by members.

simon.jones     posted : 04/11/10 at 2:36 pm

ok, will do, thanks for your good advice. Any idea how I find out about the neighbouring authorities? I've an idea that they too were as unprepared. The council in question is Hertfordshire Expert     posted : 03/11/10 at 10:04 am

Whether you suceed or fail will depend on two factors;
If the court considers that the actions and delays were reasonable; and if the actions and delays were documented and approved.

Ask for evidence of their prioritisation and if it was approved by members. You might also want to establish if any neighbouring authorities also had similar delays. That way, you could argue that other authorities managed to cope, so why couldn't you.

Best of luck

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