To grit or not to grit, that is the question;

…that every regional, city, town and village authority across the country is asking itself. The big problem is that many authorities do not have a choice in the matter, as their supplies of grit and salt are running at an all time low.

As the UK suffers its coldest night of winter, with temperatures on January 8th 2010 plummeting to -22.3C (-8.1F) in a village in Sutherland in the Highlands and overnight temperatures of -10C (14F) widespread, commuters are again left to battle icy roads and pavements amid these “stretched” road salt supplies.

From a legal perspective, local and highway authorities have a duty of care to maintain the highway in a safe condition. Section 41(1A) of the Highways Act 1980 provides that a highway authority is under a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow and ice. There is therefore, in effect, a qualified duty to grit the highway network for which each authority is responsible.

So, the statutory duty to keep a safe passage on a highway may well be breached if reasonable steps are not followed (i.e. grit or salt is not applied where it ought to be). Although this does not automatically give rise to compensation in the event of an accident, if you have been injured on the highway or at work due to the snow or icy conditions, as well as seeking medical attention as promptly as possible, we would recommend consulting a solicitor.

Our expert Personal Injury team is ready and available to advise you, so please call 0151 236 5000 or e-mail us at