The proposal by Fine Gael to allow local authorities to supply farmers and communities to spread on local roads is fraught with legal problems.
Liam Moloney, Personal Injury Solicitor in Naas commented on the Fine Gael proposal:
“The proposal by Fine Gael to allow citizens to go onto public roads and treat those roads with salt and grit would render those people potentially liable if an accident occurred.
If local authorities faced claims from injured pedestrians or car users, the local authorities themselves could seek to apportion liability on the people who themselves have treated the roads.
There is absolutely no legal obligation on any person to treat a road outside of their own property and if an accident occurred they could be party to claims. There would then be issues with insurance cover”.
“Section 60(1) of the Civil Liability Act 1961 provides that a road authority shall be liable for damage caused as a result of their failure to maintain adequately a public road. Under the relevant legislation, a “public road” means a road that responsibility for the maintenance of which lies with a road authority and includes any bridge, pipe, arch, gulley or footpath.
Successive Governments have refused to sign the Ministerial Order, bringing this provision into effect.
Although local authorities dispute that they have a legal responsibility, they continue to salt and grit some roads in their areas.
Business owners have a responsibility under the Occupiers Liability Act 1995 to take such care as is reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that visitors to the premises do not suffer injury or damage by reason of any dangers existing on the premises.
There is a lot of confusion at the moment in relation to the legal duties owed by local authorities in respect of the maintenance of public roads. At a minimum, Section 60 of the Civil Liability Act 1961 should be immediately brought in to law so that there is no requirement for members of the public to be asked to do the work of the local authorities”.
Moloney & Co. Solicitors
Lawlor’s Commercial Centre