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Highway Men: Councils blame potholes on the lawyers suing them…

The councils of England and Wales released a statement this week through the Local Government Association (LGA) in a bid to warn citizens against claiming for accidents on the roads.

Passing the blame from themselves to the legal profession, they warned that claims ‘risk having a detrimental impact on road repairs and education budgets.’

Compensation Claim Today Responds:
Here at Compensation Claim Today we were astounded; the number of claims brought against local authorities correlates directly with the quality of services they provide. One cannot deny the simple fact that in relation to potholes the better the road surface the less claims can be brought.

If the statistics the LGA presented are to be believed, the cost of compensation claims stemming from poor road surfacing stood at £31.6m last year. Ironically, the association went on to quantify this figure by stating that the monies could have been used to repair 600,000 potholes nationwide! The LGA clearly cannot appreciate that it is their failing to meet their responsibilities in providing adequate protection to the public that is prompting the number of claims to increase.



The Fleming Faux Pas
Indeed, the Chairman of the LGA’s Improvement Board, Councillor Peter Fleming admitted that ‘The vast majority of lawyers do a commendable job.’ In comparison, the LGA has done a poor job in shirking their responsibilities under the Highways Act.

Presumably forgetting about the vast majority of lawyers who are doing a commendable job in his opinion, he went on: ‘All too often the only real winners are the lawyers whose huge legal fees can dwarf the compensation payouts received by their clients.’ This mis-step is typical of the inadequacy of local authorities and the massive bureaucracy that they employ to delay proceedings rather than admitting liability from the outset.

To trick potential claimants into reconsidering their claims on account of their council tax is incredibly patronising and contrary to principles of justice. We doubt that if Mr. Fleming was injured on the roads he would prioritise the needs of his council over his need to receive advice from a qualified professional as he recovered.

Moving forward, a consensus will have to be reached but the legal services profession has already made concessions; the Jackson reforms have comprehensively reduced the amount of legal fees that lawyers may charge. It is now up to the LGA to recognise that they are not immune from change because they represent a constituency rather than individual clients.