Could Pothole Payout be the Answer to our Problem?

A very large pothole with a pool of dirty water inside it, deep in the surface of a road.
A small avatar of a white female with brown hair wearing a purple top.
By Georgina Handy
Marketing Executive

Lawyer Clive Thorp from Selsey, West Sussex has successfully won against his council when his car was damaged by a pothole in a case that could now help more motorists across the UK.  Mr Thorp went down the route of going to small claims court against his council after they had rejected to pay out after his car was damaged for the third time in two years by a pothole on the same stretch of road.

Two weeks before the case went to court the council agreed to a settlement fee of £130. This figure covers the damage that was caused to his tyre and additionally, his legal fees; Mr Thorp now believes that the legal argument he used could set a standard for other drivers whose vehicles are damaged by potholes.

Mr Thorp hit the pothole whilst driving his car KA on the 6th September 2018 which measured 27 inch by 11 inch and 3.5 inch deep. Council workers had been made aware of the pothole two weeks prior to the incident, but did nothing in terms of repair. In it’s place painted markings around the hole ahead of a permanent restoration.

road full of potholes

Mr Thorp took his case through the online fast-track small claims court service which cost £25. Where he argued using the case of a Court appeal judgement from 2017 covering the case of a jogger who sued Barnsley council in Yorkshire after it denied responsibility for ankle damage caused by a pothole.

Judges in the hearing stated:

“defects which represent an immediate or imminent hazard’ should be ‘corrected or made safe’ at the time of the inspection. Repairs of a permanent or temporary nature should be carried out as soon as possible, and in any case within a period of 24 hours. Permanent repairs should be carried out within 28 days.”

He argued that recent case law states that councils must make temporary repairs within 24hours of becoming aware of potholes.

“The amount of effort the council put me through to be compensated was terrible but I believe it shows my interpretation of the law is correct. Other motorists should use it and make a claim. It isn’t expensive and if everyone did it, it might force councils to make more of an effort to make the roads safe”

Mr Thorp who is a commercial solicitor insisted that getting the money back was not his main priority, but stressed:

“I’m very cross that the public are being fobbed off by local authorities when they should know what the law is. The council says it is acting legally as long as it has a system in place to deal with repairs but that is not what the law says. Their idea – that potholes should be repaired within 28 days – is not good enough. A motorist or cyclist could be killed in that time. The case law needs to be used to force local authorities to act and save lives.”

Have you ever had significant damage caused by an unfixed pothole? Have you ever tried to challenge the council on it? Do you know any examples of really terrible areas with lots of potholes? Be sure to drop us a comment on social media and let us know your thoughts!