Who is to blame for my costly supermarket slip-up?

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Although the forecourt of a supermarket petrol station on the site of a big branch had been gritted, the access road was untreated and I dropped my bike on a patch of ice lurking by a mini-roundabout. I didn’t do a great deal of damage to the bike but it was new so I’m not best pleased that there’s a massive scuff. Can I make the council pay?

James R, email


Answered by Andrew Campbell, Solicitor and author of the MCN Law column.

Snow and ice claims can be difficult and are very different depending on who was responsible for the mini-roundabout. The local authority is only responsible for ‘adopted’ roads. It sounds like the road you are referring to may not be adopted and could be the responsibility of the supermarket, particularly if the road goes back through their car park.

If the local authority is responsible for the road, then, as with their responsibility for potholes and other obstructions, they are not required to keep all roads clear at all times, and as long as they have a reasonable system of inspection and clearance that will be a full defence to a claim such as yours. 

If the road belongs to the supermarket, a claim may have better prospects. They are required to take reasonable steps to ensure that anyone using the petrol station is able to do so safely and the fact that they have gritted the forecourt would seem to suggest they were aware of that and have taken steps to prevent it being too slippery. If they have subsequently failed to grit the road in and out, for which they are also responsible, then that would seem to be negligent and you may well succeed against them.

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